The St. Cloud Little League began it’s 2023 season on Saturday with an opening ceremony that included a record number of players, coaches, families, elected officials, and community members, all wanting to hear the proverbial ‘Play Ball’ over the PA system.
The first pitches were thrown by Osceola County Commissioner Ricky Booth, and his wife, School Board member Erika Booth, followed by Easton Franey leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
Also in attendance were St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell, St. Cloud Commissioner Linette Matheny, St. Cloud Fire Marshall Richard Tonks, owners of Headquarters Co-working Keith and Kelly Trace, and Canoe Creek Christian Church Pastor Ross Reynolds.
“What a wonderful group of volunteers you have here. Thank you to all the volunteers who come out to coach every week. It’s a tough job, but we appreciate each and every one of y0u so much. The kids will remember you as their coach for the rest of their lives. Thank you,” Commissioner Ricky Booth said during the opening day ceremony.
The league, which began in 1975 and is one of the largest leagues in the southeast, is comprised of 80 teams this year with 945 players and is run entirely by volunteers. The Little League season is a long, running through May, but volunteers like player agent Franny McNutt continue to make the sacrifice so the kids can experience and learn about the game of baseball, “On opening day we see nearly 1000 kids come out to play baseball, along with coaches and a huge amount of other volunteers. It’s the best day of the year!”
As St. Cloud Little League President Debbie Henderson said to Positively Osceola on Saturday, “It’s an exciting day and we are so grateful to be able to do this for for the community.”
The league also has four “Challenger” teams for kids with special needs and is available for kids from ages 4 to 14.
Later in the season 26 kids will be selected as All Stars which will form two teams. Those teams will go on to play with the hope of winning their way to the Little League World Series, which as you would expect, is a long and challenging path. The St. Cloud Little League has made it as far as the southeast championship, one game shy of heading to Pennsylvania for the Little League World Series.
St. Cloud Little League is supported by sponsorship and player fees, and as the league continues to grow, and max out the fields they utilize behind the St. Cloud Civic Center, they are working with the city and the county to expand. Currently in the works are 6 new fields, four which will come from developing open fields around the current Little League area, and two additional fields that will come from the renovating of two nearby T-ball fields.
The games each Saturday are open to the public, and are a great example of how organizations, in partnership with the City of St. Cloud and Osceola County, can leverage amazing volunteers, to make a Positive Difference in and around St. Cloud and Osceola County!