Ballplayers will parade through Homewood and Flossmoor on Saturday morning, April 22, before congregating at their respective fields for ceremonial first pitches, prizes and then the first games of the season.
Parade lineup in Flossmoor will begin at 8:45 a.m., and the players start marching from the Parker Junior High parking lot east on Flossmoor Road to the Flossmoor Park ball fields.
Along the way, teams cheer as they compete for spirit awards, using the acoustics of the viaduct to amplify their voices.
After teams arrive at the fields, local guitarist Manny Ramirez will reprise his 2022 performance of the national anthem in the style of Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock version, according to Flossmoor Baseball and Softball President Carlo Gozzi.
The first pitch will be tossed by Homewood-Flossmoor High School Principal Clinton Alexander.
The Little Red Donut Truck will be in the Western Avenue School parking lot from 8:30 to 11 a.m. selling freshly made apple cider donuts, Gozzi said.
Team pictures will follow the parade and games will begin midday. The concession stand will be open throughout the morning and late afternoon.
Homewood Baseball and Softball will have seven past presidents of the organization as guests to help celebrate the start of the 2023 season, according to spokesman Nick Quirke.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Irwin Park in the 1800 block of Ridge Road. Teams will march east to the ballfields adjacent to Izaak Walton Nature Preserve, 1100 Ridge Road.
The ceremonies will be conducted by new HBS President Angie Brandt, who has been involved with the organization for more than two decades, Quirke said. A number of her children participated as players, and she has helped run the concession stand.
“She really embodies the spirit of our league and the spirit of volunteerism,” he said.
Laurence Holmes, sportscaster on WSCR “The Score,” will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the baseball side, and two daughters of the late Carol Smith, longtime softball coach at James Hart School, will throw out the first pitch for the softball side.