Gorham turns out for start of ball season

The 2016 Gorham Youth Baseball and Softball Association season kicked off last Saturday with the annual opening ceremonies and parade of teams.

Some 300 family and friends joined nearly 200 ballplayers at historic Robie Park before a full slate of games on a clear early spring day. Music, food, an ice cream truck, raffles and a festive atmosphere highlighted the midday event at the field.

“Planning for today and the season is a year-round event and the community of Gorham, including our newly formed GYBSA Booster Club, have worked hard preparing for the season and we are ready to go,” said Cressey Mollison, president of the group.

The Gorham Youth Baseball and Softball Association, in its second year as a standalone organization separate from the town of Gorham, plans on investing in the program and ballfields the kids play on. New dugouts at Little Falls are in the works, as well as major updates at the Conrad Knight Memorial Field at the former White Rock School. Gorham Youth Baseball and Softball Association won a field improvement contest last season from the Portland Sea Dogs and U.S. Cellular. Those were the first steps into making major improvements in that field, which hadn’t been used in several years.

“We hope to continue to work on that field and return it to its former glory,” Mollison said.

The group would like to move some fences, update the memorial garden, add a new flagpole and some day add a snack shack.

Kenneth Tuttle, a former GYBSA and Gorham High School baseball all-star, was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s event. Tuttle, a 2015 Gorham High graduate, was stricken with cancer last summer, just weeks before he was to leave for college. Tuttle reminded parents how important it is to cherish every moment with your kids, not to take anything for granted because it could all change in a minute. Tuttle also spoke to the kids.

“You are playing with friends that you will have for a lifetime. Some of my best times were right here on this field. Some day down the road when you are adults, you will remember these times with your friends. Make the most out if it,” he said.

Baseball parent Michelle Lappin, whose two sons, Luke and Jacques, play on the defending league champion All State Insurance baseball team, added, “Baseball always brings back great childhood memories, whether it was watching my brothers play, watching the Red Sox on a hot steamy summer night on a fuzzy TV with my dad, or getting neighbors of all ages together in our back yard or at camp for a game of stick ball or baseball. I love that it’s a game where kids don’t have to be great at every part of it in order to contribute to the team.”

Gorham parent Lisa Sjostedt said that Gorham “is a great community and I enjoy watching my sons, and all the kids, learn and improve. It’s always fun and festive and a great way to start our season.”

One of the highlights of the annual event was the presentation of the U9 Cal Ripken state championship trophy and state championship banner to Head Coach Travis Whitehead and his team.

“We have some great coaches and some great young ballplayers in this town,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead has coached the past two U9 state championship teams. The 2015 state championship team lost in the regional semi-finals last year in Connecticut.

The regular season goes through mid-June followed, by playoffs and state Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth playoffs. For more information about the league, see www.gybsa.com or visit Gorham sports page on Facebook.

Curren Bassingthwaite is greeted by friends after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in Gorham last Saturday.

One of the highlights last Saturday was the presentation of the U9 Cal Ripken state championship trophy and state championship banner to Head Coach Travis Whitehead and his Gorham team.