Gov. throws out first pitch

Gov. Northam throws out a first pitch at the Little League state tournament opening ceremony at Yeonas Park. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

As expected, there was much to see and hear during the early evening of July 22 when the opening ceremonies for the Virginia Majors Little League all-star state baseball tournament were held in Vienna.

There was a parade, which included fire trucks from the Vienna Fire Department. Cheering fans crowded along the sidewalks and a motorcycle police escort, for the 16 participating district championship teams sporting their team banners as the players and coaches walked from the Cedar Park Shopping Center along Patrick Street, then inside Yeonas Park.

Vienna Little League and its home fields at Yeonas Park are hosting this year’s competition.

Teams from as far away as Virginia Beach, Louisa County, Lynchburg and southwestern Virginia are playing in the tournament, along with the Vienna National All-Stars and others from local areas of Fort Hunt, Loudoun County and Spotsylvania.

Once inside the three-field Yeonas complex, the Washington Nationals’ four Racing Presidents were bouncing all over, D.C. Washington sang the National Anthem, and Gov. Northam and Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert threw out first pitches.

“All of the teams have worked hard and played hard to get here. Now have fun and go play,” Northam said.

Northam told the Sun Gazette he played Little League-age baseball growing up in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, playing for all-star teams as a pitcher. He later pitched for Onancock High School, which merged with Central High in 1984 and is now named Nandua High.

“You wouldn’t know I was a pitcher, though, from that bad opening pitch I just threw out,” the governor said.

Northam stood on the mound and toed the rubber on Crabtree Field at Yeonas. But his pitch was high and wide right, sailing past the catcher. A good waste pitch, he was told.

“Yes, sometimes you need to throw pitches like that to keep batters off balance,” he said, smiling. “What a great event this is and a great park and great fun for these players to be playing and being active.”

(The governor wore a dark blue shirt and sported blue shoes. He didn’t realize blue is the primary color of the District 4 champion Vienna National All-Stars.)

Standing closer to the plate, Colbert’s pitch landed square in a catcher’s mitt.

“We have planned for months and a lot of people have worked hard to prepare for this tournament,” Vienna Little League president Michael Jreige said. “Dominion Energy has really been great working and volunteering to fix and prepare a lot of things in the park.”

The ceremony inside Yeonas ended with the two words of “Play Ball” from tournament coordinator Lynn Jacquez.

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