Latest Issue

A Thank You to All and Let’s Play Ball

As I watched my nephew play baseball on a beautiful sun-drenched Spring Day that turned into an amazing evening, all seemed right in the world. There was a doubleheader of baseball with his game finishing under the lights. Kids were playing, practicing, and enjoying every kid’s activity possible as there was no school the next day. There was laughter, joy, and happiness everywhere as one of those first beautiful days of Spring graced the West Branch Valley.

The talk around the ballpark was not about politics, current world events, or anything closely controversial. The conversations I was involved in were mostly about baseball, how everyone was within the other person’s family, and how nice it was to see so many kids outside enjoying the weather in so many different ways.

It’s hard to believe how time has flown by so quickly. Many of the kids playing that night were very young when my boys were finishing up their high school days. As for the coaches, umpires, and parents, many were involved with baseball at that time in some manner. A common thread between most was they now had kids playing Little League Baseball, or they have remained involved over the course of time because of their love of baseball.

As Jimmy and I got in my car and headed for home, it was time for me to focus on writing my column. We had enjoyed a nice dinner before the game and talked about what would make a positive topic for this week; he replied, “Why don’t you write about baseball?” At the time, I didn’t know quite what to do with that, but as I pondered the other issues going on in the world, it seemed like a pretty good idea.

I must also thank him for the nice Philadelphia Phillies pullover he got his dad. It is ideal for those ball games that start with the sun up and finish under the lights.

As I thought about all of the baseball I’ve been involved in over the years, most has been about providing the best opportunity for kids to learn and play the game. It truly takes a team effort at whatever league or organization you participate in to make this happen. The time, effort, and volunteerism needed to provide any youth sport are often just expected and taken for granted. I don’t believe this is done out of malice; in most cases, it is done just because everybody’s lives are so busy.

So, my simple words of positivity this week are, thank you. Thank you to all who volunteer their time to organize and manage not only baseball but youth sports for all children. Thank you to the coaches that spend countless hours with the children, this beginning with making sure their cleats are tied when the young ones first start out. Thank you to those who umpire; what a most difficult job at any level of baseball. It amazes me how this is a calling for many and the umpire for a lifetime.

I must interject here with my call for umpires, referees, and officials. There is a need at every level of athletics for these special people.

Thank you to all who donated their time, effort, and money to ensure the children have a place to play, uniforms, and that concession stand to get the sugary treat of their choice.

Thank you to all that sponsor teams and donate financially to their local leagues. This is a great example of businesses and organizations within the community working together for the good. I’m sure as you’re reading this, many are thinking about the first Little League jersey they wore and the name of the business or organization that was across the front. As most of you know from previous articles, mine was King’s Motel, and I cherish my memories of playing at Lions Field for my coaches, Bob English and Dick Whiteman, back in the day.

Thank you to everyone reading this that provided the opportunities for my children to play and enjoy baseball and helped to carry on the Webb family tradition of baseball.

I encourage everyone as they go out to watch that next ball game just to take a good look around and appreciate that so very special opportunity our children have in this great Nation we call home. If this moves you after the game to thank a coach, umpire, or the person grooming the field, please do so. I guarantee it will be appreciated.

In closing my column this week, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all of Gary Brown’s family. Gary was an amazing player, coach, and ambassador of the game of football. He represented Williamsport with an amazing pride, passion, and energy in his journey through life. He left us way too soon and will be greatly missed.

I pray for his family to find peace and solace during this most difficult time. Scott Lowery shares some thoughts about Gary’s life on page 66. As we learn about Williamsport High School’s plans to honor Gary, we will share them with you.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb