Trail Minor Baseball (TMB) opens its 66th season on Saturday at Andy Bilesky Park.
Long-time volunteers Darrell and Doreen Boisvert will open the TMB season by throwing out the first pitch at noon.
“They’ve been on the executive for a long time, helped out, and volunteered for a lot of years,” said TMB president Steve Robinson. “Since they stepped down this year, we thought it would be a good time to honour them.”
About 140 players registered to play TMB this year, down slightly from previous years, as a number of 12-13-year-olds moved on to play in a newly created 13U Trail Youth Baseball League. However, a boom in the rookie ranks promises good numbers for the future.
“We didn’t quite have enough in the Majors and Minors to have the same number of teams as last year, so we just have two larger Major teams and three larger Minor teams,” said Robinson, who also coaches. “We have seven rookies teams, so that’s the 6-8 year olds, and then we have the Blastball as well, so it’s good numbers across the board.”
The Major teams will play 16 games in a West Kootenay Baseball League that includes Fruitvale, Salmo, Grand Forks, Nelson and Castlegar.
Trail will field three Minor teams that play 12 games and will also play in a league with teams from Castlegar, Nelson, Salmo, Fruitvale, and Grand Forks.
The Rookie division is made up of smaller teams of nine players, which rotate between practicing skills and playing games. TMB uses a ‘sling arm’ pitching machine for the rookie matches.
Blastball for 5-6 year olds focuses on fun, while building skills and developing young ball players.
The Major and Minor teams also play in tournaments and will host the West Kootenay baseball playoffs at Bilesky Park in June, by virtue of both the Trail Major Mariners and Trail Minor Padres winning the league titles last season.
“There should be lots of baseball this year,” said Robinson. “All Stars start in late June, so same thing there, hopefully we’ll have a few teams there as well.”
TMB is looking to create a second ‘All Star’ team to groom younger players for next year’s All Star program. The team would play in tournaments throughout the summer, and ramp its training and commitment up a notch by following a similar program to coach D. J. Ashman’s Trail All Stars.
Robinson is in his first year as TMB president, but looks forward to a long tenure.
“It’s been good,” said Robinson. “There’s a good group of people, lots of people doing lots of things, and with four kids I’m going to be around for a long time, and living near the park, I might as well take advantage of it.”
Opening Day starts at 10 a.m. at Andy Bilesky Park with the Trail Minor teams playing on the big field and the rookies taking to the small field.
The Opening Ceremonies go at noon, with the teams’ procession onto the field, followed by the Little League pledge, and throwing out of the first pitch.
Following the ceremony, the two Trail Major Little League teams will play to kick off another exciting season.