By CHAZ PLAGER
When it comes to one of the happiest days in the Palisades, residents know that the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association Opening Day and Pancake Breakfast is second only to Fourth of July.
Parents and children alike gather to celebrate the opening of the Little League season with all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausages, and eggs. The event was delayed from March 11 March 18th, because of rain, but as soon as I arrived at the Palisades Rec Center, I tried some of the food– it was delicious.
The food was provided by the PPBA parent volunteers, and I can’t thank them enough for giving me a ticket.
At 8:30 a.m., the opening ceremony began, continuing a 69-year tradition. PPBA president Bob Benton began by introducing the commissioners of the 10 Little League teams.
Benton, who has been the baseball commissioner for 37 years, welcomed new City Council member Traci Park.
“Baseball teaches kids courage, teamwork, and dedication,” she said. “When they high five the other team, they learn about respect. I wish some of my colleagues had learned to play baseball.” This elicited laughs from the crowd, and she wished players good luck in the coming season.
The seven-and-eight-year-old Red Sox pintos came to the field and sang the National Anthem.
Finally, the main event arrived, a special guest had been invited to throw the first pitch.
This year, it was Rob McElhenny, who you may recognize as the creator and star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
This wasn’t McIlhenny’s first time doing the honors. In Game 4 of the 2022 World Series, McElhenny was invited by the Phillies to catch the first pitch thrown by Chase Utley.
“I hope that none of you kids know who I am,” McElhenny said. “If there are any parents here who let their kids watch my show you are bad parents, full stop.
“Obviously, that’s not true. If you’re here for your kid, you’re a great parent.”
McElhenny said, “I want you to recognize… not everyone is so lucky to have their parents and their friends show up for them, day in and day out… to cheer them on.”
He then led the children to applaud their parents. As he prepared to make the first pitch, he said, “I’m more nervous now than I was at the World series.”
The pitch went off without incident, and afterwards McElhenny spoke to this Circling the News reporter.
CTN: Why did you agree to throw out the first pitch for a little league?
McElhenny: I live close to the Palisades. One of my friends is a parent and he has two sons that play in this league. He asked if I could come out here and throw the first pitch, and I said I’d be happy to.
CTN: Did you play baseball growing up?
McElhenny: I grew up in Philadelphia, just a mile away from Veteran Stadium where the Phillies play. I played Little League in the shadow of that stadium.
My position was deep, deep outfield, where the coach said a ball wouldn’t reach me. It really taught me a lesson about humility. Even so, I still love baseball. The days of The Phillies are my home team, but the Dodgers are everywhere, so they’ve become my West Coast favorites.
CTN: You’re the creator and star of your original hit show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. What’s it like to act in a show you created?
McElhenny: What’s not to like? I can’t imagine making a show any other way. I write the script to give myself parts I know I can act and deliver in a certain way.
CTN: I saw another one of your current shows, Mythic Quest. I really loved the standalone episodes, but not the more serialized ones. Why not just make a season of the standalones?
McElhenny: Funny that you say that, because that’s exactly what we’re gonna be doing, starting next year.
CTN: What’s the biggest tip you can offer writers?
McElhenny: I think that sports, playing sports, helped me. I was a terrible athlete, and yet I tried everything. Wrestling, baseball, basketball, golf… I kept trying to find the thing I was good at.
What that taught me was that you have to keep trying, keep grinding to find the thing you’re good at, and then put yourself into it 100%.