Derry youth baseball season dedicated to late team manager
DERRY -- Several weeks of intense preparations have finally been completed in anticipation of the 2008 Derry Area Youth baseball season, which will begin Saturday with a traditional triple-header at the Derry Area Youth complex.
The 2008 season will be dedicated to the memory of William G. "Bill" Bracken who was killed Jan. 22 in a work-related accident.
A special tribute to Bracken, a team manager and member of the Derry Area Youth Athletic Association Board of Directors, will be made during pregame festivities, which will begin at 1 p.m.
The tribute to Bracken, the father of three sons, will be highlighted by the presentation of a special plaque to his wife, Toni, and the playing of special bagpipe music.
In addition, members of the Bracken family will be invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
On Saturday, major league division players in the program will be wearing new uniform jerseys. Throughout the entire 2008 baseball season, they will wear a symbolic "B.B." on their hats.
A special plaque, which bears Bracken's picture, will remain on permanent display in the Derry Area Youth Baseball Complex concession stand.
The ceremonies also will include a special tribute to area companies and individuals who have made financial contributions to the DAYAA organization this past year.
Plaques also will be presented to past members of the DAYAA in recognition of the dedication they have shown to the organization over the years.
Following the pregame festivities, play will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a game between the Pirates and Athletics. Play will continue on Field A at 4 p.m. with a game between the White Sox and Orioles.
The long day of baseball will conclude at 6 p.m. on Field B with a game between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.
Serving as team managers on 2008 will be John Gray, Pirates; Phil Westerbeck, Athletics; Rich Zemba, Orioles; Brian Roble, White Sox; Tim Wege, Cardinals; and Ron Hamacher, Diamondbacks.
The six-team league will play a 25 game schedule this year followed by the annual league championship playoff series.
The DAYAA will once again host a tournament, which will begin in mid-July.
Serving as officers of the DAYAA in 2008 will be Ronald E. McKinney, president; Eric P. Tepper, vice president and player agent; Barb Panizzi, secretary and James Meloy, treasurer.
McKinney said that a number of improvements have been made to the baseball complex, including the installation of a new batting cage and bullpen pitching mound.
All of the work, which included the completion of the new pressbox, was completed by volunteer workers under the leadership of Phil Westerbeck.
Later this month the DAYAA will begin its T-ball and minor league baseball programs for boys and girls. Both programs are slated to begin full scale practice sessions within the next week.
The DAYAA has expanded to include girls' softball. McKinney said that some 60 girls have signed up for the program, which will begin later this spring at the Derry Area School District softball field.
"We are pleased that there has been so much interest shown in the softball program for girls and we think that it has a lot of potential for growth," said McKinney.
He expressed the hope that the softball program will be a feeder system for the Derry Area program, which in recent years has been struggling.
McKinney went on to say that the DAYAA would be unable to carry out its quality youth baseball and softball programs without the generous support of the community.
"We would be unable to carry out this program and provide our youngsters with quality facilities without such wonderful support from the community. We really appreciate it," McKinney added.
Once again the concession stand will be in full operation and some new food items will be added this year along with a full line of soft drinks.
He invited the public to attend Saturday's festivities.