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Local Youth Teams Ready To Play Ball
The boys - and girls - of spring were suited up, proudly carrying banners proclaiming their team name and sporting brand new cleats, gloves and caps. They assembled on the outfield grass at Hogan Park on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning, ready to take on the new Little League season.

With 32 teams in all, opening ceremonies were hosted at the city's Hogan Park adjacent to the Escalon Community Center at 8 a.m. Saturday, March 5 with a full slate of games following a little later on in the day.

Opening ceremonies included brief remarks from emcee Mayor Danny Fox, the presentation of the colors by members of Boy Scout Troop 415, singing of the National Anthem by Alex (Murken) Pinheiro, introduction of teams, along with their coaches and sponsors, and the ceremonial first pitch, thrown by reigning Miss Escalon Samantha Corriea.

Fox also brought city officials, Recreation Commission and Escalon City Council members in attendance out to the mound briefly for an introduction to the crowd.

Teams include those in the categories of T-Ball (8), Rookie Girls (4), Rookie Boys (4), Minor Girls, (4), Minor Boys (6), Major Girls, (2) and Major Boys (4).

The majority of teams do have sponsors, mostly local businesses and service organizations, and are outfitted in the colors of their Major League namesakes, such as the Giants, White Sox, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Red Sox, A's and Tigers, to name a few. There are also a few squads sporting names like Riptide, Thunder and The Force, the last of which drew the loudest cheers from those on that team in the Rookie Girls division.

"We have about 420 kids involved this season," explained Escalon Recreation Director Bridget Gaines. "It's down just a little bit from last year. We will have games now through May 21, with a couple of Saturdays off in between."

In addition to the weekly games and practices, the 400-plus youngsters involved in the youth baseball and softball programs will have the chance to be recognized next month at Escalon Babe Ruth Night with the Stockton Ports minor league baseball team.

The 'night' recognition will actually come during a day game on Sunday, April 17 when the Ports host the Visalia Rawhide.

Players are encouraged to attend the game in uniform to represent their team and league, they can participate in a pre-game parade on the field and display their team banner.

The ballpark will open at 1:05 p.m. and parade staging begins at 1:20 p.m., with the game staring shortly after 2 p.m.

Field box seats for the game are available through city's Recreation Department at $8 per ticket by contacting Gaines at 691-7305.