Watch out for flying baseballs – lots of them – Saturday in Wauwatosa.
The Tosa Baseball League officially kicks off the baseball and softball season with opening day events at Wisconsin Avenue Park, Breitlow Field and Whitman Middle School’s baseball diamonds. Festivities kick off at 9 a.m. at all fields, and games will be played until 6:15 p.m.
More than 800 kids ranging in age from 6 to 14 signed up to play on TBL’s 50-plus baseball and softball teams this season.
Players are divided by age and drafted onto teams in four leagues – Rookie, World, National and American – for baseball.
On the softball side, girls play in the Junior, Minor, Major and Senior leagues.
Every one of those players will participate in an opening day game this Saturday against a TBL opponent.
To make the event more festive, organizers recruited local celebrities to throw out the opening pitch at each game. Public address systems at each field will be manned by parent volunteers “calling” the games and providing color commentary on the youth players.
(Opinion: Color commentary is especially welcomed at the Rookie and World levels, where you’ve got kids playing on such teams as the Mudhens, Crawdads, Muckdogs and Sea Monsters.)
“The league really exists to give all kids the opportunity to play baseball, and to make it a summer family pastime,” said James Ingbretson, league president. “We couldn’t do this without our family and community volunteers, who have kept the league going since 1971.”
The coaching staff, managers, concessions workers and board of directors are all volunteer positions; it takes a crew of about 150 to handle a season.
Nearly two dozen of those volunteers have been associated with the Tosa Baseball League since their own playing days in the league, decades ago. Now, those former players teach their own sons and daughters to shag balls and field grounders on the same fields they cut their teeth on.
That passion for the game has led to significant growth and changes in the league. In recent years, teams have been added to several age brackets to allow more kids to play (most leagues fill up quickly), as well as four “Titans” tournament teams.
Between this season and last, Tosa Baseball’s Extra Innings, a 4,000-square-foot training facility, opened at the corner of 92nd and Center Streets. It offers year-round training with pitching tunnels, batting cages and a fielding area.
The Tosa Baseball season runs through July, wrapping up with a tournament for each age level. Every participant gets a uniform, recognition and a trophy at the end of the season.
What: Tosa Baseball League’s Opening Day
When: Saturday, daylong, with games beginning at 9 a.m. and going until 6:15 p.m.
Where: Wisconsin Avenue Park, Whitman Middle School, Breitlow Field
For more information: www.tosabaseball.com