Athol-Orange Little League season underway with parades and games

By Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 05-08-2023 4:41 PM

ATHOL – After days of rain, the sun shone on organizers and players of the Athol-Orange Chuck Stone Little League as they got their season underway Saturday morning.

The annual event made its way from the Athol Area YMCA, down Main Street, over the Exchange Street Bridge, and on to James H. Salaven Field, just behind the Athol American Legion.

As spectators took seats on bleachers off the first base side of the field and the hill overlooking it, players and coaches ringed the infield from third to first base. They stood with caps off and hands over their hearts with the American Legion Color Guard for the National Anthem, sung by Audrey Elmwood.

Before first pitches were thrown to kick off the baseball and softball division competitions, League President Rob Woodard presented a number of awards recognizing volunteers who made the 2023 season possible. He was assisted by League Secretary Emily White. The first-ever Golden Shovel awards were given to Shaun Sherman and Robert “Woody” Woodard, father of the league president.

“For countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears and preparing James H. Salaven and Muzzey Field for children to play baseball and softball on, we cannot thank you enough,” said Woodard of the volunteers.

Next to receive recognition was, said Woodard, “someone who deals with late-night phone calls from myself, other people, other towns; deals with meetings, her husband going to meetings, just always on the road going to different meetings; on the computer countless hours – you name it, she has to deal with it, and deal with her husband, too.”

He then presented Meg Ringer with a bouquet of flowers, adding, “I can’t thank her enough.”

Meg’s husband Steve was then presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Award, for “countless hours of service…for our organization,” said Woodard.

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“This person puts in countless hours,” he added, “whether it’s coaching, being on the phone, emails, getting softball ready, baseball, team schedules.”

The most emotional moment came with the naming of the press box at Salaven Field. Woodard said this was done in recognition of many years of service and dedication to the Little League.

“Tom is the voice of Chuck Stone Little League,” he said. “I know many of the people who have played here over the years, and they always ask about Tom. So, this press box is now officially dedicated to Tom Doiron.”

A choked-up Doiron, who normally has no problem finding words to express himself, appeared speechless, saying simply, “Thank you, everybody.”

On hand for the presentation of the sign which will adorn the press box were three of Doiron’s grandchildren – all of whom play in the league – Landon, Lexi and Liam Bass.

Ben Winters then caught the ceremonial first pitch from Steve Ringer to get the baseball season officially underway, followed by Tom Doiron tossing the first pitch of the softball season to Isabella Kimball.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.

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