By PETE FONTAINE No words - not even when Jim Tweed praised parents and adults who volunteer in a number of capacities - meant as much when the dedicated Apponaug Babe Ruth Cal Ripken Baseball League President declared with excitement ringing in his
By PETE FONTAINE No words – not even when Jim Tweed praised parents and adults who volunteer in a number of capacities – meant as much when the dedicated Apponaug Babe Ruth Cal Ripken Baseball League President declared with excitement ringing in his voice: “The season’s official open; let’s play baseball!”
Tweed, in fact, left no stone unturned as the old adage goes, as he emceed the one-time independent Apponaug youth baseball program’s 27th anniversary season opening with the famed International Babe Ruth League’s Cal Ripken Division that this year will afford well over 200 boys and girls ages 12 and under an opportunity to take a crack at the national pastime.
On a day when old man weather provided a wonderful backdrop of sparkling sun and a slight breeze that enabled ol’ glory to be outstretched on the center-field flag pole, proud parents, players, league officials as well as city officials filled nearly every nook and cranny of the well-maintained Apponaug Baseball Complex for a flurry of activity that offered as much excitement as a rookie making his Major League debut.
There was the introduction of Tee-Ball and Rookie Division teams, along with their respective sponsors, that drew admiration-plus from Beverly J. Wiley - Warwick’s popular Director of Parks and Recreation – who proclaimed while watching the Tee Ball players ages 4-6 parade onto the field emphasizing “It’s these little ones who are the best!”
The Apponaug Babe Ruth Cal Ripken Baseball League also features a Rookie Division for players ages 6-8, a Minor Division for children 8-10 along with the Major Division for kids ages 10 to 12.
Meanwhile, Warwick City Council President Stephen P. McAllister added: “This is a great day – for the players, parents and people who make it all possible, most especially the generous sponsors.”
To which Everett Downing, who has served as the State Cal Ripken Commissioner since Babe Ruth Baseball initiated the one-time Bambino Division for pre-teens back in 1982 and then later changed the name to the Cal Ripken Division, offered: “These opening days never get old; especially when it’s all about the kids like it is here today.”
Downing, who lives in North Providence and loves his job in promoting the Cal Ripken Division, brought a special guest to Saturday’s Apponaug opening – his daughter Jessica Downing now 43 - who back in 1990 became the first girl to ever play in the New England Bambino Baseball Tournament that West Warwick hosted at famed Anthony G. Rainha Memorial Field in Riverpoint Park.
Back then, Apponaug was still an independent youth baseball program that was first chartered by Babe Ruth Baseball in 1994 and has been an integral part of the Rhode Island Cal Ripken Baseball League ever since.
Everyone from Wiley, who has been part of Rhode Island’s baseball, softball and sports scene for a number of years and in different capacities, to McAllister, Downing and District II Commissioner Dana Boisclair praised Tweed’s troupe for the way it presented Saturday’s brief yet impressive Opening Day Ceremony and the well-organized schedule of activities that Apponaug League will have during its 2021 season.
Said Tweed: “We have a number of families involved in our program.”
For example, Tweed’s wife Pam manned the colorful apparel booth that offers colorful Apponaug Cal Ripken garb while the likes of Madison Silva, Heather Silva, Neil Douglas and Michelle Harrop volunteered to hand out bottled water which was supplied by Ed Silva, yet another dedicated volunteer who owns and operates ES Landscaping, Inc. and provides free service to maintain the Apponaug complex fields.
Likewise, Tweed heaped words of praise upon Joe Amoroso, a lineman for Verizon and valuable at the Tri-City Elks Lodge 14 on West Shore Road in Warwick, who “donated hour-upon-hour and used his equipment to fix our fields during the pre-season. We couldn’t have opening without his help and for that we thank him for his outstanding contributions.”
Of course, no baseball league opening would be complete with the ceremonial first pitch with that honor going to first responders from the Warwick Fire Department, namely Pvt. Austin Ledoux and Lt. Michael Schmidt. Their catcher was Kevin Tweed, the prexy’s son.