It was perfect weather at the ball park Wednesday night for the Opening Day celebration of Hays youth baseball and softball players participating in the Hays Recreation Commission summer leagues.
The first-time event, which HRC youth sports director Keith Smith hopes will become an annual tradition, invited 850 players, plus coaches, sponsors and families to the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.
“We should have started cooking the hot dogs a day early,” Smith joked, as he checked out the long line at the concession stand.
All of the teams, coaches and sponsors took the field for introduction by Eagle Radio’s Dustin Armbruster, and then they recited the Sportsmanship Pledge:
“Although we have 10 fewer players this year than last summer,” according to Smith, “we’re up from two years ago.”
There are 850 kids playing on 72 teams — 29 baseball teams, 23 softball teams and 21 T-ball teams.
Smith said the event is a “fun way to also give back to the many sponsors and volunteers who help” with the Hays Rec summer leagues.
Other activities included a home run derby for the older boys, an accuracy throw for the girls and a speed-throw challenge from first to third base.
Attendees also had the chance to win tickets to a Royals, Wingnuts or T-Bones game.