One of the valley’s annual traditions will be in order Saturday when San Pedro Valley Little League kicks off its 2019 season.

Close to 300 boys and girls will take the field this year at a much improved Lions Park and with a new scoreboard and concession stand to boot.

And once again, as it is annually, the community will no doubt be there in full support. Opening Day in baseball, regardless of the level of play, is special, and we must say, Benson’s is pretty cool.

Boys and girls in Tee-Ball, Coach Pitch, Minors, Majors baseball and softball, decked out in their colorful uniforms, gather at Benson Primary School parking lot where the teams are paraded down Patagonia Street on floats and in beds of pickup trucks to Mauldin Field at Lions Park. Spectators line the streets along the route, cheering on our boys and girls of spring and summer.

We can never stress enough the countless positive attributes instilled on impressionable young minds through participation in youth sports like Little League Baseball and Softball. Teamwork, fair play, giving your best, while winning and losing with grace, are all qualities that transcend the baseball or softball diamond.

Too many times though, in this day and age, youth sports is thrown into the public eye for all the wrong reasons. Overzealous parents, albeit the small minority of them, can do much to take away from the positive elements that unfold between the white lines. Not only do they embarrass themselves, they embarrass their children, too. They need to remember leagues are run by volunteers, for the kids, and most importantly, for the fun.

It takes a community for any Little League Baseball League to flourish, from the sponsors who continually reach into their pockets despite a difficult local business climate, to all the volunteers who umpire, coach, keep score, man the concession stand and serve on the board — it’s a team effort.

We are blessed in Benson to have caring volunteers who give of their valuable time for the betterment and enjoyment of our kids in the San Pedro Valley.

It’s exactly what Carl Stotz had in mind in 1939 when he formed a three-team league in Williamsport, Pa., to what has become Little League Baseball and now known the world over. He wanted to teach youngsters teamwork and fair play.

So as our boys and girls engage in healthy, athletic competition, it’s our hope all our adults will lead by example, reminding our boys and girls that the effort is what counts. We get the objective is to win — why else would a score be kept? But we also recognize there is much, much more beyond the end result.

The bottom line is Little League baseball and softball is about the fun, and we’re fairly certain that concept, along with fair play and competition, resonate with our kids. Let’s just hope it does with all our adults.

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