The Jamaica Plain Regan Youth League celebrated its 42nd Opening Day Ceremonies on April 16.
The day began with the traditional parade of baseball, softball and teeball teams, where hundreds of young people in full uniform walked with their families down Centre Street all the way to Daisy Field on the Jamaicaway. They were accompanied by Engine 28 from the Boston Fire Department, as well as by two musical groups, Mike Frank and the Regan League All-Star Band and Alexander Faria y su Grupo, who entertained the crowd from atop flatbed trucks provided by Stanley Service. Chuck McAfee, Headmaster of Madison Park High School, reprised his annual role of parade marshal, herding the teams into position and ensuring that the parade arrived safely at Daisy Field.
Several elected officials were on hand to help the League kick off its season, including: state Reps. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sánchez; City Councilors Matt O’Malley and John Connolly; and Clerk Magistrate Maura Hennigan. All of these elected officials sponsored teams this year in the league. Neighborhood Services Coordinator Jullieanne Doherty attended as well, representing Mayor Thomas Menino.
The JP Regan Youth League has been in existence since 1969, when a group of parents in Hyde Square got together to organize a league. It has grown every year and now serves more than 850 young people ages 5-18 in Teeball, Softball, and Baseball divisions The JP Regan Youth League also operates summer baseball programs for 150 young people ages 13-18. The summer program is supported by the City’s Boston ROCKS program and the JP Community Benefits Trust Fund.
At the event, League President Harry Smith and board member Flossy Calderon announced that more than 55 local businesses, organizations, and individuals have sponsored teams this year, helping to raise more than $25,000 to cover equipment, uniforms, umpires and other costs. They urged families to shop locally and patronize the local businesses which give so generously every year to make it possible to operate the League. The Gazette is a team sponsor.
At the ceremony, the League recognized Gwen Friend, a long-time league volunteer who has served the league in various capacities for many years and who recently stepped down as treasurer. In appreciation for her long-time service to the youth of JP, the League presented Friend with a monogrammed JP Regan Youth League jacket.
The Regan League also announced a new award to be presented this year, the Jamie Winshall Sportsmanship Award. The award is named for Dr. Jamie Winshall, a widely respected and beloved Regan League father and coach who died before his time in a traffic accident in 2005. The award will be presented annually to a Regan League coach who has best exemplified over the course of the season the signature characteristics Winshall exhibited as a coach: care and respect for all players on his own team and on other teams, dedication to the highest principles of sportsmanship and fair play, and an abiding love of the game.
League officials also announced a continuing partnership with CHAMPS Boston, a “youth development through sports” initiative of the Boston Foundation, which provides training for coaches, donates sports equipment, and refurbishes playing fields throughout the city. Brianna Forde was on hand representing CHAMPS Boston.
At the close of the ceremonies, the elected officials and special guests threw out first pitches. After that, it was left to guest of honor Friend to say the magic words to kick off the season: “Play ball!” Following the ceremonies, teams went off to fields across Jamaica Plain to play their first round of games.
The spring season will run until June 25 with the end-of-the-year picnic. For more information about the JP Regan Youth League, visit www.reganyouthleague.org.
The writer is the president of the JP Regan Youth League.
2011 JP Regan Youth League Teams
Ellen’s House Child Care
Southern JP Community Health Center
The Pet Cabaret
Century 21 Pondside Realty
City Councilor Matt O’Malley
El Oriental de Cuba
Extra Space Storage
Red Sun Press
Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez
Scanlon’s Physical Therapy
Station 8 Salon
Ultra Beauty Salon
Brookside Community Health Center
Coldwell Banker Real Estate
Extra Space Storage
JP Neighborhood Development Corporation
Mt. Washington Bank
Maple Hurst Builders
The Power Company
Boston Police E-13
JP Auto Body
Klein Hornig LLP
Trinidad & Tobago Club
City Feed & Supply
Mount Pleasant Home
Boston Building Materials Co-op Cardinals
Extra Space Storage Rockies
Faulkner Hospital Royals
Hyde Square Task Force Orioles
JP Seafood Café Pirates
Rep. Liz Malia White Sox
Stamatos Property Management Braves