Like a flower in bloom, the spring season brought the Newville Little League Complex to life this past weekend.
Over 200 little leaguers participated in the league's opening day ceremonies on a splendid spring morning Saturday at the complex. Players of all different age groups, both big and small, were introduced one-by-one onto the major division field. The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Jerry Kelley, who was recognized for over fifty years of involvement with baseball in Newville.
“I love baseball. I look forward to this day every year, and I’ve missed very few over the last 50 some years,” Jerry stated afterwards. “When they first asked me [to throw out the first pitch] I was really surprised. I take it as an honor. I’ve been a part of [Newville Little League] for a long time and I really appreciate them thinking of me and asking me to do this.”
Kelley's love for the game began as a player for Newville Little League back in 1968. He went on to become a member of the league's 1972 Area 2 championship team.
He volunteered as an announcer and scorekeeper at the complex from 1973-78 and has coached baseball for over 30 years. His coaching career has spanned numerous levels, including all divisions of little league.
Kelley coached Newville's 1985 junior league team to a district championship, and led the senior league team to a district title in 2004 and again in 2005.
He currently volunteers as an assistant coach for Big Spring’s JV baseball team, where he coaches under his son Ryan.
“I thank my lord and savior for giving me that desire to still coach. I’ve always had the desire and that love in my heart to coach kids,” Jerry said.
Jerry threw out the first pitch to his great nephew and current little leaguer Konnor Graham.
“It was a little outside. I made it a little difficult on Konnor. But hey, at least I didn’t bounce it,” he laughed.
Following the ceremonial first pitch, the players lined up along the outfield grass shouted in unison “play ball,” kicking off a full day of baseball at the complex.