PITTSFIELD — In the 70 years that Pittsfield Babe Ruth Baseball had an Opening-Day ceremony, there were probably a couple of days that were chillier than Sunday morning.
On Opening Day, that doesn’t matter.
“It’s amazing,” Pittsfield Babe Ruth president Dave Wildgoose said. “Opening Day is the best day of the year.”
More than 100 Pittsfield youth players, all decked out in their game uniforms, were introduced at Deming Park as Pittsfield Babe Ruth kicked off its 70th consecutive season of providing baseball to youngsters from Pittsfield.
“These teams, these kids have been preparing for a while to get ready for this,” Wildgoose said after the ceremonies and before the Sunday opener. “Our league has come a long way in the last three years, and I’m excited we’re starting our 70th season.”
Once all the players were introduced, former Pittsfield Mayor Paul Brindle III took to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Jake Duquette, who plays for BSN Sports, squatted behind the plate and caught the pitch.
In prepared remarks, Wildgoose stated that Mayor Brindle’s father helped start the Pittsfield League, along with Lou Russo, Colin Keegan and Vin Hebert. It was originally named the Little Bigger League, but became Babe Ruth in 1954. The former Mayor played on the first Pittsfield Babe Ruth All-Star team.
On Sunday morning, Brindle was surrounded by members of his family. Since the 1950s, a member of the extended Brindle family had either played or coached in Pittsfield Babe Ruth. Most recently, his son Paul and grandson Matthew Stracuzzi coached, and grandson Nick Brindle played last year as a 15-year-old.
Much like other Berkshire County athletic programs, for both boys and girls, Pittsfield Babe Ruth officials say they are there to support the young athletes. Wildgoose said that in the seven decades of Babe Ruth Baseball, more than 5,000 young athletes and their families have been supported and the youngsters have been given a chance to play.
“It’s funny. We didn’t realize it until maybe about six months ago, how old we were,” Wildgoose said. “I contacted the national-international headquarters and talked about it and about where we were. Once we found out, it was like ‘wow, we have a major milestone.’ So we have to start doing more stuff. We have to continue to work on the field, and do some special things this year and have some special events.
“It made it exciting for all of us.”
The diamond looked in pristine condition. There is, however, one major change to the field at Deming.
There are new concrete dugouts for the teams. The dugouts are not quite finished yet, but work from Unistress, Berkshire Concrete and Premier Excavation, along with support of donors and the Rotary Club of Pittsfield, put Babe Ruth Baseball in position to be just shy of topping the projects out. Wildgoose said he is hopeful that the roofs for the dugouts will be on by the end of May or early June.
“That’s been something that has been kicked around by the board for five years or so. We finally got to the point that this is the reason, the 70th is the reason for us to go out and do it,” Wildgoose said. “We just started reaching out to people and said can you support it? When we got a great response from the community, we said let’s throw our efforts into it.
“We hope this will give us the opportunity to launch and to be able to host a regional tournament for Babe Ruth.”