Updated at 10:30 a.m. March 5, 2012
La Mesa National Little League teams in the younger age groups will have Friars fever this season—since all teams from Minors level down are wearing uniforms donated by the major league Padres. Some 200 players in 18 teams took to the outfield at Kuhlken Field across from the La Mesa Community Center on Saturday morning to open the league’s 59th season. League President Joe Lutz saluted players from last season, who won five of a possible seven banners in District 33 play.
“This was a spectacular 59th Opening Day for La Mesa National,” Lutz said Monday. “Having all divisions (except T-Ball) have real games is what Opening Day is traditionally about and I am extremely pleased at the results of the efforts of all constituents of the league to make it such a wonderful day for the players.”
San Diego Symphony veteran Calvin Price opened the ceremonies Saturday, playing the national anthem on trumpet. Throwing out the first ball at the same time were five civic leaders including Mayor Art Madrid, league donor (and Councilman) Ernie Ewin, a Rotary Club representative and police officer Jeff Raybould, whose La Mesa Police Officers Association helped improve ballfields for the league at Lemon Avenue School. Madrid said he “threw a perfect strike.”
The weather was perfect for Day 1, at least, with no clouds in the sky and temperatures in the low 70s. La Mesa* Rotary Club members (who donated $1,000) barbecued free hot dogs and hamburgers both at Kuhlken Field and Lemon Avenue but later traveled to El Cajon for memorial services Saturday afternoon for Dr. Jeff Marxen, the Rotarian killed in a motorcycle accident Feb. 23 after finishing a softball game in Mira Mesa.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to another Rotary Club.