LJYB shines on 60th Opening Day

By Tom Murphy

La Jolla Youth Baseball

Saturday was a picture-perfect day for LJYB’s 60th Opening Day. For the very first time, all of the brand new Padre uniforms were on display and it was a sight to behold. Hundreds of kids in 20 different uniform styles were checking out the goods on the other teams and it was fun and festive. LJYB President Jim Benham served as Master of Ceremonies for the brief program at noon.

When San Diego Padres President Tom Garfinkel arrived with the Swinging Friar and the Pad Squad, he had a fun surprise for everyone — Cy Young Award winning pitcher Randy Jones was in the house! Between the Friar and Randy Jones, they must have posed for a hundred photos with players — and their parents! Benham did a nice job of welcoming and thanking all of the families who do so much for the kids and to support the La Jolla baseball community. Garfinkel spoke further about the Youth Baseball Initiative that he spearheaded on behalf of the Padres that resulted in 11,000 kids in San Diego all wearing Padres uniforms for the 2012 season — which is a first in Major League Baseball.

Following a beautiful acapella performance of The Star Spangled Banner by La Jolla High student Vaill D’Angelo, Garfinkel was invited back to the mound to throw out the ceremonial First Pitch. According to Chip Murphy, who played on the 1954 LJ Contractors team and served as Tom’s catcher, it was a strike on the outside corner — “with some mustard on it!” Jackson and Harrison Garfinkel closed out the ceremony with the two words everyone loves to hear at a game — “Play Ball!” Before the kids took the field, everyone in uniform — coaches, players and Padres’ representatives – posed for a memorable league photo. Moments later, everyone was treated to a surprise flyover with a bi-plane sent by Barnstorm Adventures, who proceeded to circle the fields and with a tip of the wings, waved at everyone below.

In all, there were 20 baseball games played on Saturday and even though it is early in the season, the Sports Center highlight reel was active — especially in Pinto. The first home run of the season was recorded by Alex Brown to lead Sector 9 over Retirement Benefits Group by a 19-14 margin. Nathan Latimer and Christian Nava led the RAK team to a 10-7 win against SD Pools with three triples and an inside-the-park homer between them. Johnny Leutzow hit two inside-the-park HRs plus a triple on behalf of Voices for Children against Herringbone Restaurant (note: they hope to open their new restaurant on Fay in April!) Devan Dooling went 4-4 with 8 RBI’s to lead Solis Chiropractic’s potent offense in their 20-7 victory over Garden Communities.

Around town, Rubio’s hosted a successful fundraiser for LJYB on Wednesday, Feb. 29 that was very well attended. The league promises not to wait until the next Leap Year to schedule another event with them. This Sunday the Brickyard Cages will again host LJYB for an afternoon of hitting at their state-of-the-art facilities. This is also a fund-raiser for the league and with the free cage time from 3 to 8 p.m., a big a turnout is expected.

Parents should check the LJYB web site for specific times in each division. For more information, please visit

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