Let the summer sports party begin

Published 3:27 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

Purple bats and pink batting helmets fill the dugout at the five-and six-year-old softball practice. Coach Jon Davis has his girls’ softball team, the Pelham Chasers, on the field practicing for the upcoming season.

The batter’s confidence dips as too many pitches pass her by. The coach kneels, adjusts her arms, and lets her feel how the bat has to stay on an even plane to make contact with the ball.

The coach steps away. Whack! The purple bat taps the ball and a pink helmet heads towards first. All of the parents cheer. The batter lands on first with a smile – and the purple bat. Another coach takes the bat telling her that next time she should drop the bat before she runs. She smiles up at him and nods.

Six-year-old Madison Brown has never been to Opening Day before, but she is excited about the festivities that will begin this Saturday, March 28 at 9 a.m.

“I think it will be like a party,” Madison said with a grin.

Madison is probably right because Pelham Park is run by one of Pelham’s biggest kids, Billy Crandall, Pelham’s Parks and Recreation Director for the past six years.

Crandall and his family moved to Pelham in 1984. He first became active at the park as a parent volunteer when his oldest son, Ben (now a college graduate), started playing ball at age 4. Billy served on the park board and as president of baseball. When the parks director’s position came open, Billy was in the health care profession.

“I was tired of wearing a coat and tie everyday and bored with meeting with health care executives,” Crandall said. “I was excited about the chance to be at the park in an official capacity.”

Crandall is proud of bringing the community together by putting all of the kids in Pelham baseball and softball uniforms.

“I love this community and these kids. Seeing kids begin the program and then graduate is a huge reward. When they see me and yell, ‘Hey, Mr. Billy!’ I feel like we’ve helped these kids stay on the right track.”

Billy Crandall has brought a fun-loving spirit to the park that keeps kids like Madison Brown excited about playing ball in Pelham. With Billy in charge, Opening Day is sure to be what all of the kids expect – a big party and the beginning of a great season of fun!