Avon Grove Area Little League celebrates 60th year
By Richard Gaw
By Meredith Haas
Sixty years ago, the Avon Grove Area Little League set up a club that would become a multi-generational institution for young children and their families. On April 21, the league celebrated its anniversary with a full day of activities that celebrated a sense of community.
“It was a great turn out today,” said Mike Baiocco, head coach of the minor B team. “I look forward to watching my son grow and play baseball with the team and the league, as well. I enjoy that we are all together, whether we win or lose, because everyone works together so well. Kids are always making friendships with other kids in the league.”
The celebration began at 9:30 a.m., when people lined up on the sides of the street from School House Road into the parking lot at the Avon Grove Little League fields, waiting for the arrival of the processional parade, which began at Fred S. Engle Middle School. From a bright pink softball team who call themselves the Wolves, to the Avon Grove High School baseball team, each group proudly held their banners, waved their arms and smiled toward the crowd.
Some high school players looked back and reflected on the times that they played on this same field when they were in the Little League.
“It’s incredible to think that not too long ago, we were standing where all of those young kids are now,” said Ryan Gerenser of the Avon Grove varsity team. “The Avon Grove baseball community is growing each year, it’s unimaginable how great it is to be part of such a great community.”
The Colts also marched in the ceremony, and a few players said that they looked forward to the bouncy house and the food.
“This is a great organization, and we have been with it since around T-ball,” said assistant coach, Terry O’Brien. “The boys have fun, so we have fun.”
The anniversary event also featured appearances by the Villanova Wildcat mascot, the West Chester University Ram, Minnie Mouse and Rocky Bluewinkle from the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Setting up shop in front of the refurbished concession stand, many businesses and organizations sponsored games and activity booths. Kelly’s sports provided a fun spin the wheel game for children; Certapro Painting had a large jenga game setup; and the West Grove and Avondale fire departments flew a large American flag from their trucks When asked why they were there, every business responded with the same message, that they're there for the kids and the community.
“This is our first year here, and we sponsor many of the teams,” said Jen Hayes, treatment coordinator at Hendrix orthodontics. “A lot of our patients are from Avon Grove Little League, so we are very excited to see some of them.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to join the Avon Grove Area Little League on their opening day,” Fire Police Lieutenant Brandon Michaels said. “We are also pleased to show our equipment and apparatus to local residents.”
During the ceremony, the league dedicated Field A to the memory of Steve Walton, a long-time board member, before current and past board members and Walton's family.
The first pitch was thrown by Dick Chambers, who was the first secretary of the Avon Grove
Area Little League when it formed in 1958. Chambers has been an active community member, having served on the Rotary Club and on the Avon Grove Fire Department. Chambers was also responsible for purchasing the land where the Avon Grove Area Little League fields are located.
The day was a mirror image of what has served the Avon Grove Little League for six decades: its strong corps of support, seen in the many volunteers, families, board members, coaches and local businesses.
“With our dedicated group of volunteers, the Avon Grove Area Little League is poised for another successful 60 years,” said Board member Mike Bujak. “It was great to see all of the young players come out for the 60th anniversary.”