OCEANSIDE — Players from 34 teams filled the fields at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Feb. 28 for the Oceanside National Little League opening day celebration. All 420 players were introduced by team, 12 games were played, commemorative 25th anniversary pins were handed out, and hundreds of hotdogs and hamburgers sizzled on the snack bar grill.
“It’s about getting everyone together to officially kick off the season,” Joe Kish, National Little League board member, said. “It’s also our 25th anniversary.”
Boys and girls from 5 to 14 play on coed teams grouped by age and skill level in the divisions of T-Ball, AAA, AA, Majors, Juniors and All Stars.
“We’re the biggest Little League in Oceanside,” Vince Tirona, National Little League board member and AAA division vice president, said. The league boasts strong community participation. “We never have a shortage of volunteers. We always have coaches who have sons and daughters who are players.”
“Little League is all about the kids,” Tirona said. “Their innocence and pure joy of the sport. It’s also about sportsmanship and team work.”
This year Oceanside National Little League plans to take home more wins. “The board chose not to expand the Major division and limited AAA to seven teams to get better players on the field and better results at tournament time,” Chris Martinez, Oceanside National Little League president, said.
Last year the league won the 11-year-old division All Stars, and made it to the semi-finals in the 12-year-old division. “None of the teams advanced to city competition,” Martinez said.
City wins are expected this year. “Expectations are high and realistic,” Martinez said.