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Ready to play ball!

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Pink Panther Pony Ball members Elizabeth Edwards [from left] 5, of Manasquan, Emilia Thompson, 6, of Manasquan, and Alexandra Attardo, 6, of Manasquan, attended the Manasquan-Brielle Little League season opening ceremony this past Saturday at the baseball field on Second Avenue, in Manasquan.|Photo by SUEANNE GOSS, STAR NEWS GROUP

Pink Panther Pony Ball members Elizabeth Edwards [from left] 5, of Manasquan, Emilia Thompson, 6, of Manasquan, and Alexandra Attardo, 6, of Manasquan, attended the Manasquan-Brielle Little League season opening ceremony this past Saturday at the baseball field on Second Avenue, in Manasquan. Photo by SUEANNE GOSS, STAR NEWS GROUP

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By Haley Behre

MANASQUAN — Spring was in the air as boys and girls marched down Main Street this past Saturday, signaling the opening of the 60th Manasquan-Brielle Little League [MBLL] season.

The opening day festivities, which included the march down Main Street followed by an opening day ceremony, brought together the league, which was affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The Manasquan-Brielle Little League, a nonprofit organization, sustained roughly $85,000 to $100,000 in losses due to Sandy, including damage to the clubhouse, concession stand and fields located on Second Avenue. The league also lost sporting equipment and field maintenance tools, which were submerged by flood waters.

Most of the damage is coming out of pocket, since MBLL did not have flood insurance, said Steve Carter, MBLL president.

Mr. Carter said the field is expected to be fully repaired by next week, with the rest of the repairs not expected to be completed this season.

“The main thing was to get the kids on the field to play,” he said. “The clubhouse is secondary.”

During the opening day ceremony, Erik Ertle, Manasquan Recreation Commission director, presented two checks to the Little League, $1,000 from Miracle on Main Street and $5,000 from the annual Fool’s Run.

Mr. Ertle said normally the Fool’s Run proceeds go toward a new community center, but “this year was not the year for that.”

Instead, the Fool’s Run proceeds were divvied up between local organizations such as the MBLL, Manasquan Inline Hockey, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Manasquan and the Riddle Way Beach playground replacement project.

Keith Walsh, of Keith Walsh Plumbing, in Manasquan, also donated $1,000, and Dick’s Sporting Goods donated $1,000 and $500 in gift cards to use at the sporting goods store, Mr. Carter said after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Tom Bauer, MBLL vice president, recognized several local businesses for their services and financial assistance. These businesses include Keith Walsh Plumbing; CJC Construction in Wall; Millbrook Irrigation, in Manasquan, Mark Wosczack Mechanical, Contractors in Manasquan; ELD Landscape in Wall, and Jonathan Green Inc. in Farmingdale.

Sponsorship in 2013 exceeded every previous year, Mr. Bauer said, noting 70 businesses have paid to sponsor teams this year.

Mr. Bauer said Jimmy Miller, of Jimmy’s Cucina in Brielle, will be operating the clubhouse cafe this season.

The annual bicycle give away for the “First Home Run of the Year” was given to 12-year-old Denny Maher, of Manasquan, during the ceremony.

For the third year in a row, MBLL won the District 11 Championship 9 to 10 year-old Baseball Championship. The team was recognized during the ceremony, with each player receiving a trophy and jacket.

The mayor and council, as well as the MBLL Executive Board, were introduced as special guests during the ceremony.

At the conclusion of the event, Sam Del Guercio, 12, of Manasquan, and Timmy Wheat, 12, of Brielle, threw the ceremonial first baseball pitch of the season, while Phoebe Mervine, 12, of Brielle, and Serena Sinisi, 12, of Manasquan, threw the first softball pitch.

Jack Heenan, 12, of Manasquan, said he hopes this year’s Little League season is fun, competitive and that everyone plays fair.

“It is good that people are helping out to get the Little League back on its feet,” Jack said about the donations made to the MBLL.

Cameron Teza, 10, of Brielle, also believed the donations were a good thing.

“It’s helping a lot,” he said. “I saw the devastation around here from Hurricane Sandy.”

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