COSTA MESA — A Little League that is nearly fully renewed flexed its muscle Saturday at the Costa Mesa American Little League Majors Division field at Costa Mesa High.
With vandalism all but completely gone from the snack bar and a new field just about ready to go and other valuable donations by Costa Mesa United, an already strong Little League just got stronger.
And, with temperatures in the early to mid-80s, the weather couldn't have been better.
"This is a great day for our league," Costa Mesa American Little League President Todd Cowley said. "We're back in business. A couple of vandals can't put us down. We're building a new field so we have three fields on the same side of campus. Before, I remember when I was playing that we had to play way on the other side of campus. Now we'll host the Tournament of Champions and the All-Star tournament [someday], which we've never had the facilities to do before."
Costa Mesa City councilman Steve Mensinger presented an oversized check worth $12,000 to the all-volunteer league. The money will go toward the new field worth $25,000.
"The Little League needed $25,000 to build its new field," Mensinger said. "This is one of their goals. Every year, we raise $100,000 from our Mesa Verde Classic golf tournament during every Martin Luther King weekend. Our average grant we give is around $4,000. Last year we donated $77,000 to Costa Mesa High School. The year before that, we gave $70,000 to Estancia High School. Both were for football facilities. It's a great day for Costa Mesa."
Costa Mesa United also donated money toward security lights and other equipment for the snack bar, which nearly one month ago had nearly $300 worth of candy and sodas stolen from it.
"We had some generous donations from Costa Mesa United, which replaced the money from the theft," snack bar volunteer Grant Junger said. "We've posted signs to let people know they're not supposed to steal anything. Hopefully, that'll deter any additional theft. Costco and others restocked the entire snack bar. With the new money, we bought a new barbecue, but we're not making money hand over fist."
As for the ceremony, there was a parade featuring nearly all 245 players on 21 teams in six different divisions. Julian Hernandez of the T-ball Indians gave the direction to "Play Ball!"
Adrian Andierio and Joe Stukkie from the Majors Division Indians and White Sox, respectively, said the pledge for the players. Rewards for selling the most cookie dough in each division were handed out.
Watching all the action was Alison Stukkie, whose family was in its 13th and final season in CMALL. Her older son, Gerrit Stukkie, played in the league. Last season, he split time as a junior varsity and varsity player for Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana.
"They do all their pledges, it was great weather," Alison Stukkie said. "It's a great day for baseball. We're looking forward to another great season."
T-ball player Leyton Torribio of the Durham Bulls — based on both the real AAA team and the team from the 1987 baseball classic movie "Bull Durham" — played his first game later Saturday afternoon.
"I'm really excited," Torribio said. "I like making home runs, because you don't get out."
Francisco Amezcua, in his second season, plays for the Royals.
"We've been waiting for this for two or three months," Amezcua said. "We'll try to be champions again, like last year."