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'Opening Day' in Sammamish: Eastlake Little League Kicks Off American Tradition

Parents cheered, kids rounded bases and coaches made sure players ran in the right direction Saturday as one little league started its season.

The baseball players rounded the bases with determination and verve. At times on Saturday, though, coaches had to point the young players toward the right base and remind them when to stop running.

Parents still cheered and captured the moments with digital cameras. For some, it was the first time to see their children don a uniform to play his or her first organized ball game.

Eastlake Little League, one of two main leagues in Sammamish, kicked off an American tradition during its "Opening Day" on Saturday. Teams played at  throughout the day and at  in the afternoon.

At McAuliffe, younger players chased after the ball which flew into the air after a batter swung. For some games, the ball sat on a holding tube so it was easier to knock into the field.

Coaches gave players guidance on the best way to send that ball flying in the air.

Older kids on a nearby diamond played a slow pitch version. In many cases, the fielders scrambled after the ball in an effort to stop the runner from advancing.

Sammamish resident Ian Heisser, 40, and his wife showed up to support their son, who plays on the Diamondbacks, a T-Ball team. The opposing team in this particular morning game was the Mariners.

"It teaches kids teamwork. It also get our kids outside and off the Xbox," Heisser said, referring to the popular Microsoft video game system.

"It allows us to get out and meet our neighbors. We realize there's a greater part of Sammamish than just us."

On a nearby diamond, Laura Drake stood near the backstop, as her 7-year-old son played in his game.

"It's a family sport. It goes back to a good old-fashioned American tradition," the 42-year-old Sammamish resident said.

On this diamond, the Cubs were playing the Tigers. Drake said the game lets players build friendships with one another. She also enjoys seeing her son realize he's accomplished something.

"He says, 'Mom I did that! Did you see that?'" she said. "That makes him happy. That works for me."

After the Mariners-Diamondbacks game, Troy Zander crouched near his 5-year-old son, Cyrus, who was sitting on a flipped-over bucket.

"It's the first time to see him play," Troy Zander, a 44-year-old who lives in Sammamish, said.

"I'll always remember this. It's great to see him play in a team setting."

Cyrus Zander kept his comments brief but to the point in what he liked about the day's game: "Hitting the ball. Running to the bases. Eating snacks."

In this case, at this moment, he was devouring a muffin.

After his son answered questions from Sammamish Patch, his dad observed: "That was his first post-game interview." 

Editor's note: Coaches and parents, feel free to upload any photos you have of Saturday's "Opening Day" baseball games. Just register, log in and upload your images. Sammamish Little League is the other main youth baseball organization in the city. Also, if you missed it back in January, freelance writer Rick Van Cise wrote about the connection that baseball has to the Sammamish Plateau.  

Susannah Adam Pryal April 10, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Great pictures and article! My son is on the Diamondbacks. We had a great time at Opening Day despite the cold!
Frances Hoffman April 10, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Go EAST LAKE Little League! It was a great time for all of us. My son is on the Diamondbacks as well and he had a blast. Can't wait for the next game!
Brad Wong April 10, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Hi Frances and Susannah, thanks for the comments and for reading Sammamish Patch! It was great to see the kids play on Saturday. Cheers, Brad Wong

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