“Oh Happy Day!” PPBA Season Opens

Yum, yum, it’s the PPBA Pancake Breakfast.
Photo: RICH SCHMITT/CTN

Historically, the two happiest days in Pacific Palisades are the Fourth of July and Pacific Palisades Baseball Association’s (PPBA) opening day.

Everyone seemed to be singing “Oh Happy Day, No more troubles and no skies of gray. . . .Oh Happy Day, Oh Lucky me,” on March 9 for the breakfast and first pitch.

“This is the 70th opening ceremony and breakfast,” PPBA Commission Bob Benton told the almost a thousand people gathered on March 9, at the Field of Dreams at the Pacific Palisades Recreation Center.

“This is my 35th year and my board did a phenomenal job of getting the field ready,” Benton said. After the downpour on Thursday, members spent most of Friday with the maintenance crew prepping the fields so that games could be played.

Everyone enjoyed the pancake breakfast that preceded the opening ceremony. Pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit and coffee (from Estate/Flour on Via de la Paz) were all deliciously prepared to help players and parents prepare for the first game of the season at 9 a.m. Since Covid, parents have not had to prepare or serve the breakfast but could simply enjoy the morning.

Also returning this year was the Gear Swap, players could bring gloves, bats, helmets, cleats and clean pants and other outgrown items to swap as a way of recycling. “Everyone is encouraged to GIVE, TAKE and SWAP,” families were told.

Grace Pithier sang the National Anthem.
Photo: RICH SCHMITT/CTN

On tap to sing the National Anthem was St. Matthew’s fifth grader Grace Pithier. The microphone shorted out several times, but as Benton said, “She was great! She sang right through it.”

The flag that everyone saluted was new and had flown over the Nation’s Capital. Benton explained that he had received a call from Congressman Brad Sherman a week before the opening, asking if the PPBA would like to have a new flag that season.

Benton replied “Sure,” but still was surprised when on the morning of the breakfast, Sean Regan, Sherman’s Field Office Head, came to the breakfast and presented the flag, which also had a certificate saying it had been flown in Washington, D.C.

Throwing out the first pitch was Station 69’s Mike Romero.
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

Throwing out the first pitch was firefighter Mike Romero, an apparatus operator, who represented Station 69.

Then it was time to “Play Ball!” More than 500 kids are participating in five leagues: Shetland (6- and 7-year-olds), Pinto (7-8 and some 9-year-olds), Mustang (9- and 10-year-old), Bronco (11-12 year-olds) and Pony (13-14 year-olds).

Also opening on Saturday was the Bat and Grill, a concession stand located between Field 2 and Field 3. Run by parents, it is a great opportunity to meet other families in the community. Benton said, the other beauty of the little stand is kids come over after their games, snack and then run around playing.

“You just lost, you just won, the kids know it’s all in fun,” he said.

About 500 players are participating in In PPBA this year.
Photo: RICH SCHMITT/CTN

To make this truly a community tradition, local organizations, nonprofits and business sponsor teams and then that name is displayed on the backs of jerseys.

Sponsors for the youngest category, the Shetland Teams are: American Legion Auxiliary, StorQuest Self Storage, Boyle Law, Once Upon a Farm, Wezel’s Pretzels, K Bakery, Kumon of Pacific Palisades and Sons of the American Legion.

The Pinto sponsors include: Amalfi Estates, ATAM Palisades, Dr. Jacobson Orthodontic Center LA, The Agency, Armav, Circling the News, SEIA, Palisades Garden Café, Team B+C and LaserAway.

Mustang sponsors are: The Uplifters, Gerber Kawaski, The Optimist Club, Golden Bull, Pacific Palisades Medical Group Concierge Practice, Dr. Polan Optometrist, Barney’s Beanery, Stepp, Palisades Village and the Kohl Team.

The Broncos are sponsored by: Monarch Athletic Club, Marc Michael Eyewear, Skinner Vineyards, Shamonki.com, Flour Pizzeria, Landmark, The Feil Group and Gerry Blanck Karate.

Pony teams’ sponsors this year are: The Yogurt Shoppe, Ciela, Rusticoffee and Mother.

We’re still friends even though we’re on different teams this year.
Photo: RICH SCHMITT/CTN

Benton said none of the season is possible without the board members, which include: Barry HoAire (Yankees), Taylor Talt (Royals & Rockies), Blake Tucker (Cardinals), Kambiz Kamdar (Pirates), Bryan Whalen (Red Sox), Darren Wald (Dodgers), David Hoffman (Orioles), Eric Foster (Tigers), Troy Miller (Cubs), Meridith Hill (Pancake Breakfast), Courtney Wyman (Sponsorships & Banners), Joe Layton (Website), Mike Skinner (Chair Pali Community Center Committee), Brian Sullivan (Consultant to Field of Dreams), Blake Schinto (Pony Commissioner) and Tripp Nassour (At Large).

Baseball Commissioner Bob Benton congratulates Heather Hill,  the Pancake Breakfast chair and Board Member on the successful day.
Photo: RICH SCHMITT/CTN

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