Skip to main content

Independent Voice

Little League Hosts Opening Day

Mar 19, 2024 05:15PM ● By Debra Dingman, photos by Debra Dingman
Listening to the national anthem, the 30 Little League teams formed a semi-circle of colors with their jerseys and baseball caps at Hall Park.

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The sun may not have been out, but the air was crisp with excitement at Dixon’s Little League Opening Day this past Saturday at Hall Park. Hundreds of little people from pint-sized to near adolescent created a diamond full half circle of bright colored shirts and baseball caps listening to the League President Casey Willard who welcomed them, their parents, and their grandparents.

After the flag was run across the field and the national anthem caused all to pause, the Challengers, a team created for children of all abilities to come together and learn compassion, friendship, and perseverance, were given the privilege of throwing out the first ball.

Little League Challengers Team

 The Little League All Star Team watches as the first ball of the season is pitched by a player on the Challengers Team.

Willard reminded the audience that they were honoring the Challengers who were marking their 10th anniversary and have strong support as TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Dixon which couples a “buddy,” a Dixon High School student, with each child.

On the diamond, and surrounded by all the teams, the Challenger pitcher was pushed into place in his wheelchair and threw the ball to a catcher from the 9-10-11 All Star Team, the team that won District 64 last year. There was loud applause.

“As a kid, I still remember being on this field with fresh uniforms,” said Williard who was born and raised in Dixon. “It’s a full-circle moment for me.” It is his first year serving as Little League President and said that this was the first full return to the traditional Opening Day in three years and since COVID.

There are 90 children participating this year and they have 30 teams.

Little League opening ceremonies

 Let the games begin. Little boys from pint-size to youth took to the diamonds after opening ceremonies.

“All the parents came out and that shows positivity,” he said. “We’re focusing on our coaching and our kids and making Dixon Little League great.” The father of two is splitting his President’s duties with coaching his 8-year-old son on the AA Braves Team and watching his 6-year-old daughter who plays on A River Cats Team.

As the children were dispersing to the various diamonds afterward, Alicia Riddick was following little Gary Ruiz who was sporting a Space Cowboy team jersey.

“I have one in Kindergarten and one in college,” she said with pride. “I love sports. It gets them out of the house and out of your hair. It’s the best of both worlds.” She has served as a Team Mom and particularly liked seeing out at the opening the “rainbow of every team.”

Ryan Overg in his third year of team play, and his brother, Alex, in his second season, were warming up outside the field and were asked what they liked about playing.

“I like going out there and getting physical,” Alex said. He added that he plans to play for 25 years.

“I’ll play as long as I can,” said Ryan.

Little League President Casey Willard Opening Day

 Little League President Casey Willard thanks parents for their attendance and support on the League's Opening Day which turned out clear and sunny.