The Leicester Blue Sox celebrated a “Grand Opening” in style on Sunday, 22 April at Western Park when the club brought youth baseball and a “proper” baseball diamond to Leicester.
The day began with the newest and youngest members of the Blue Sox playing an exciting exhibition baseball game in front of parents, coaches and local baseball fans.
The “Blue Sox Juniors” were split into two competitive teams for the club’s inaugural youth baseball event and went on to play their hearts out in close game, which ended with a 10-8 scoreline. Longtime Leicester baseball player Shaun Hill said, “It has been nearly 28 years since my last involvement with youth baseball in Leicester. It was a real honour and privilege to be asked to manage one of the junior teams on the day and I am really looking forward to this great sport growing in our community.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed the youth game, celebrating the new baseball backstop fence erected at Western Park this spring. The pageantry featured Denny Walker and club founder Mark Meredith, recent inductees to the Blue Sox Hall of Fame, alongside junior team captains Phil Green and Jack Lee.
Funding for the new facilities and youth scheme has been provided by BaseballSoftballUK, Sport England, Hancock’s Cash and Carry, Charles Street Buildings Group, Leicester City Council, Lafarge and The Co-Operative.
Club Chairman Matt Crawshaw said, “We have begun to build facilities that give both children and adults in the area a positive social and physical outlet in the form of baseball. I would especially like to thank the parents who have been tremendous in their support for us. With their help, we have built up a compelling youth baseball programme in less than three months and with our revamped ballpark now officially opened, the future for youth baseball here in Leicester looks very bright.”
The day ended with the Leicester Blue Sox adult team piling up a comprehensive 26-9 victory over newcomers Stourbridge Titans in the BBF’s AA Midlands Division. In doing so, Leicester took an early lead at the top of the division with 2-0 record.
Head Coach Giovanni Ciotti said, “While adult teams have been here in Leicester for a few years, the positive energy and perspective that kids’ baseball has brought to this club is nothing short of amazing. We’re proud to be a part of their growth and to be offering kids in and around Leicester a chance to experience this great game.”
The Blue Sox adult team will next be in action on Sunday, April 29, away to last season’s Midlands Division champions Milton Keynes Bucks.
The next Blue Sox Juniors fixture is penciled in for Saturday, May 12 and the club would like to hear from any youngsters aged 8-16 who want to get involved.