Last Saturday, the annual local baseball season began, complete with pomp and circumstance, balloons, flags, good spirits, clean uniforms, and beaming smiles, with the traditional Opening Day parade and ceremonies at Arricale Field.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, Cal Ripken (ages 7-12) League coordinator Art Strandberg was happy with the weather.
"It was fantastic," Strandberg said. "We weren't worried about the weather at all. Every year, we're worried about having Opening Day rained out, which would be a real downer for the kids. But this was one of the first years where we didn't have to worry about it. It was a glorious day for everyone."
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner agreed.
"It was a gorgeous day," Turner said. "The field was in great shape. We had a great turnout and everyone was happy. Opening Day does mean that spring is here. And it was the first warm weekend we had. It really signifies the beginning of spring and this day really fit the bill."
The more than 175 youngsters who participate in the Cal Ripken League and 75 who play in the Babe Ruth League (ages 13-15) took part in the Opening Day ceremonies, before the Cal Ripken teams took the field for their first games of the spring.
"My compliments go out to Artie Standberg and Chris Verdon [the Babe Ruth League coordinator] for putting it all together," Turner said. "Chuck Barone [the Recreation Director] and his crew did a nice job of organizing. The Parks Department did a great job getting the field ready. It was a great day."
Strandberg never loses sight on why he dedicates his life to the youngsters of the township.
"It's really all about the kids," Strandberg said. "Especially after the long winter we had, I think the kids were really anticipating this that much more. It made the day more pleasurable for everyone. The kids are excited, the parents are excited. A lot of these kids are playing organized baseball for the first time, so this was the first day they got to wear their new uniforms. It's just a fun day for everyone."
Strandberg said that Turner and the Township Council deserve a lot of credit for making the Weehawken Youth Baseball a success.
Strandberg also credited his cohort, Jim McCall, who helps with the Cal Ripken organization, while John Dorman assists Verdon with the Babe Ruth League.
Before the Opening Day celebration began, Turner officially announced plans to totally renovate Arricale Field in time for next year's opener.
The renovations will include new bleacher seating and fencing, along with the pathway areas and retaining walls. There will be a new concession stand and a press box over the concession stand.
"It's just going to make our league that much better," Strandberg said.