By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
The rain last Saturday morning didn’t slow the Hyde Park Kenwood Legends Little League Baseball/ Softball Program (HPK Legends) from giving it their all during the much awaited 2018 Championship games at Kenwood Park, 1330 E. 50th St.
During this special event, celebrating the non-profit organization’s 40th season of competitive and instruction-based baseball for in children the Hyde Park and Kenwood communities, parents, coaches and young participants expressed their enthusiasm about the sport the best way they knew how, by making the games go on.
“This season, a total of 330 kids ages four to 15 participated in the HPK Legends,” said Marcellus Moore, a coach and organizer of the HPK Legends. “We had a lot of fun, despite the rain.”
Six teams made it to the 2018 Championships from the HPK Legends main divisions; the Rangers vs. Yankees representing the Tee Ball division, open to five-to-six-year-olds as an introduction to team baseball; the Blue Jays vs. Astros, representing the Rookie division, for seven-to-eight-year-olds getting their first try at pitched baseball; and the Red Sox vs. Diamondbacks, representing the Minor division, for nine to 10 year olds.
Throughout the morning events, family members and coaches cheered the young athletes on as they showed off their learned skills of teamwork and dedication in the finals.
The 2018 Champions include:
• Rangers – 1st place, Coach Bill Hanselman
• Yankees – 2nd place, Coach Grant Gannaway
• Blue Jays – 1st place, Coach James Labelle
• Astros – 2nd place, Coach Claude Robinson
• Diamondbacks – 1st place, Coach Tim Stoelinga
• Red Sox – 2nd place, Coach Don Elligan
“I’m really glad my son got to participate in this team,” said Karla Slayton, mother of Michael Slayton in the Rangers Tee Ball division. “It’s an example of good team work, fun, and he was really excited about making new friends along the way.”
The young player agreed with his mom enthusiastically, “I had tons of fun and liked making friends,” said Michael Slayton while celebrating his team’s victory for the T-Ball Championship.
The program, celebrated each year, places children by expected level of play and has availability for other age groups including: Jr. Tee Ball, a very parent interactive division open to four-year-olds as an introductory level to baseball; Major level, for 11-to-12-year-olds; and Babe Ruth, for 13-year-olds and older for dedicated plays who are looking to represent the Hyde Park Kenwood Legends as a competitive travel team. The teams are all co-ed, meaning girls can also join. The HPK Legends also has a Girls Softball team for ages seven to 15, now going into their second year and open to all skill levels.
The games ended with an award ceremony and picnic for each team and division, where the young participants gathered with their friends to collect their trophies and team pictures.
“The games were super fun, and I think everyone learned and improved during the season,” said Gannaway, coach of the Yankees. “We’re looking forward to the next season.”
A full list of team scores and participants is available on the Legends’ website at www.hpklegends.org.