Sirens blared in celebration on Circuit avenue in Oak Bluffs Saturday to signal Martha’s Vineyard Little League’s opening day ceremonies.

Players and their families gathered at Oak Bluff police department in the morning before parading to Viera Park, where Drew Kelly, coach and former MVLL player, kicked off the season by welcoming players and their families to the program’s 45th season.

Teams gathered at the Oak Bluffs police station then paraded to Viera Park. — Ray Ewing

“This is a community organization that’s been around so long, and it still has some of the innocence that a lot of things have lost,” Mr. Kelly said. “There’s still a cuteness to Little League.”

Kate Harding said she always enjoys watching her son Shane play.

“It feels like the true summer starting whenever [baseball season] starts,” Ms. Harding said. “It’s exciting and kids are excited and everything about [baseball] is fun for the kids.”

Josie Look anchors first base. — Ray Ewing

This upcoming season is dedicated to Joel Rebello, Waylon Sauer, Chris Sharkovitz, Cris Vought and Michael Brown, former Little Leaguers who all died unexpectedly the past year. Family and friends of the five former players and their coaches threw out the first pitches. Current players representing the former players’ teams were ready to catch the balls.

While there are a lot of returning players, Ava Merriman is beginning her baseball journey, playing T-Ball with the Bats. After opening ceremonies, she was itching to get started.

“I like learning stuff,” Ava said.

Jackson Callahan gets a hit. — Ray Ewing

New this year for the league is a softball division. Tiffany McCarty, head softball coach at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, is at the helm. One of her biggest goals, she said, is to introduce softball to girls at a young age with hopes that the “feeder program” model will strengthen competitive softball around the Island.

“[I noticed that] these girls are coming to play varsity and they can’t compete sometimes because they’ve never played or seen competitive softball,” Ms. McCarty said.

The possible impact of softball on young girls is a passionate cause for Ms. McCarty, who has over 20 years of experience playing and coaching. She hopes to keep softball alive and thriving on the Island.

“I would love to see us having a program here starting at T-Ball and going all the way up to the 16-year-old age level with multiple [softball] teams who can play there so if girls don’t make JV or Varsity, they can go back on the Little League team and get better and improve,” Ms. McCarty said.

Alo Blake slides into home. — Ray Ewing

Building lifelong friendships and team-building skills are at the crux of what makes Little League special.

“I think the team aspect of it [is my favorite part],” Ms. Harding said. “The camaraderie between the kids is very sweet and it really encourages them to be team members. They’re always having fun. You never see the kids really too upset.”

For Mr. Kelly, being involved in the Little League program goes beyond his personal history with it. He played, his kids played and he wants to share that love with the community.

“I want these kids to know that I’m just like you and I love this game,” Mr. Kelly said.

More Pictures