Former firefighters recall the night the grandstand burned

  Young ballplayers make their (loud) way through 
  the Flossmoor Road viaduct during the Flossmoor 
  Baseball and Softball opening day parade on 
  Saturday, April 22.
(Photos by Eric Crump/H-F 

Anyone who wants to know what team spirit sounds like need only visit the Flossmoor Road viaduct while the Flossmoor Baseball and Softball (FBS) parade is marching through.  

Early on April 22, as team after team marched under the tracks, the concrete walls reverberated with the roar of enthusiastic little leaguers preparing to start a new season.

  Eme Mae Matthys, left, and 
  Tommy Goff present the 
  colors during the Flossmoor 
  Baseball and Softball opening 
  day ceremonies. The replica 
  Revolutionary War-era cannon 
  was built by Tommy and his 
  father, Ken Goff.


The parade of teams from Parker Junior High to the ball fields at Flossmoor Park was led by  a 1971 Mercedes driven by Tom Baffes escorting the parade grand marshal, the Flossmoor Fire Department, represented by Capt. Matthew Berk.

After emerging from the viaduct, the parade went past a review table, where judges considered the spirit displayed by each team. The third place spirit award went to the Mustang Nationals. Second place went to the Pinto Cubs. 

The team with the most spirit, according to the judges, was the Bronco Giants, which in addition to their voices sported a cardboard sculpture of a giant Giant mounted on the back of one player.

Although the team didn’t get an award, the Little Royals, a T-ball team, charmed the crowd with its act. The five players would lurk behind the team banner, and at a signal from coaches Danie and Kirby Van Vliel would dash through the banner like a high school football team taking the field.

The parade concluded with an opening day ceremony that featured Audrey Simmons singing the national anthem, the first pitch tossed by Berk and the presentation of the colors by Tommy Goff and Eme Mae Matthys. 

The presentation of the colors had a historic touch added by FBS President Ken Goff and his 14-year-old son, Tommy.

The two collaborated over the winter to build a Revolutionary War-era cannon which was on display in the infield. When Tommy and Eme Mae presented the colors, they stood with flags waving in the breeze on either side of the replica cannon.

Goff said his son has long been a history buff. For his spring break this year he asked to go to colonial Williamsburg. While there, the family saw a Revolutionary War cannon, and Goff said the one they built looks very close to the real thing.

He said Tommy wanted to display the cannon at the opening ceremony as a way to teach kids about history.

“He always says you have to keep it alive,” Goff said.

Tommy dressed the part, too, wearing an outfit inspired by Revolution-era garb, including a tricorn hat, vest, breeches, powder horn, canteen and satchel.

His mother, Ann Goff, said in spite of the great education she got at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, “I never learned so much about history until I had a son who is passionate about it.”

Goff also introduced Vince de la Torre, winner of last year’s Jarrett Rowe Award given to a Bronco-aged boy who “exemplifies the characteristics and character of Jarrett Rowe,” Goff said. The award was created in honor of Rowe, who died in 2010.

  The Little Royals show their spirit during the parade 
  by roaring out from behind the team banner, much 
  to the delight of parade viewers.



News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week