Hart baseball and softball opening ceremonies celebrates a new generation of athletes 

Members of the mini-minor league UCLA Bruins pose for a photo in front of the banner during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Members of the mini-minor league UCLA Bruins pose for a photo in front of the banner during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Excited children of all ages wore jerseys to represent their teams during the William S. Hart Baseball and Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremonies on Saturday afternoon.  

With a variety of food trucks, attendees in the stands singing along to a “Sweet Caroline” and an overall upbeat atmosphere at Valencia High School, families watched every team of the season walk out onto the field.  

Some of the 1901 participants of the 160 teams gather before the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Some of the 1901 participants of the 160 teams gather before the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Roughly 160 teams comprised of 1,900 players this season came out to wave to the audience and celebrate the league, which was established in 1954. 

Ryan Gagnon, coach of the Texas Longhorns, a softball team of girls ages 5, 6 and 7 years old, including his daughter, Taylor, 5-and-a-half years old, discussed the event and the fun spirit of the kickoff.  

“It’s fun being here at the 70th anniversary. Fun to see all of the teams and spirits. Texas Longhorns rule, softball girls rule,” Gagnon said. 

The Texas Longhorn team for ages 5 and under, join 160 teams as they march onto the field during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
The Texas Longhorn team for ages 5 and under, join 160 teams as they march onto the field during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Kelley Barnes is hopeful that her son Easton, 4, will enjoy baseball since he’ll be on a team for the first time ever this season. 

“It’s our first time, my son’s 4. He’s very excited, he’s already made a lot of friends. I’m excited for him to start and hopefully fall in love with the game,” Barnes said. 

Coaches, as well as children between the ages of 6 and 18, walked out for nearly an hour to not only be celebrated by parents, but also to commemorate 70 years of community baseball.  

Former William S. Hart Baseball & Softball League player, Congressman Mike Garcia, right, presents a certificate to League present Tim Ott during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Former William S. Hart Baseball & Softball League player, Congressman Mike Garcia, right, presents a certificate to League present Tim Ott during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Tim Ott, president of the executive board for the William S. Hart Baseball and Softball, thanked the crowd for their attendance of Saturday’s event, before being recognized by Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita. 

In addition, Ott empathized with the crowd, having joined the organization around seven years ago with his kids who are now 12 and 11, one of whom is on a team coached by Ott. 

“This is completely volunteer run. Every single one of us is a volunteer, and it takes a lot to get this done— we can’t do it without you guys. We do appreciate everything you bring, just getting your kids to practice and games, sometimes it’s all you can manage. Trust me, I know, I’ve got two kids of my own,” Ott said. 

Jaxon Kelstrom, left, and and Brett Stickles of the Cubs for ages 3-4 , wave to their families during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
Jaxon Kelstrom, left, and and Brett Stickles of the Cubs for ages 3-4 , wave to their families during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal

Ott expressed the biggest element he found impressive for the large crowd: finding parking.  

“I’m very impressed with how many people were here. The parking was a mess and you still showed up. This is amazing, thank you very much for coming out.” 

The minor league Hawaii team members waves to family in the stands as they join the 160 teams on the field  during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
The minor league Hawaii team members waves to family in the stands as they join the 160 teams on the field during the William S. Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal
The minor league Cal Bears join the parade of teams during the Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324.  Dan Watson/The Signal
The minor league Cal Bears join the parade of teams during the Hart Baseball & Softball 70th Anniversary Opening Ceremony held at Valencia High School on Saturday, 020324. Dan Watson/The Signal

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