By Jordan Holland
The Marietta Times
Times file photo
A Marietta Bantam League player stands in the batter’s box awaiting a pitch during a game in 2011.
Kids across the Mid-Ohio Valley are dusting off their cleats, breaking in their gloves and cleaning out their baseball bags as the Marietta Bantam League's opening day is slated for Saturday at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
There are 35 teams in this year's Bantam League, with roughly 12 players per team, adding up to approximately 420 total players.
While helping kids hone their skills and acquire knowledge of the fundamentals of the game, the league is also just an all-around fun time.
"We're a recreational baseball program," said Marietta Bantam League president Jim Brown. "We don't turn anybody away. We don't have tryouts.
"It's just a fun thing for the kids. It's a good family thing."
The league is divided into five age-based divisions. The Pony league (13-14 year olds) will feature seven teams this season.
The Bronco league (11-12 year olds) comes in with lowest numbers with four teams. The 9-10 year old league will have six squads while the 7-8 year old league owns the highest numbers, currently sitting at 10 teams.
The tee-ball league (5-6 year olds) rounds things out with eight teams.
Brown said the numbers for 2013 are basically on par with recent years.
"The only league I'm worried about is Bronco league," he said. "Four teams get tired of beating on each other over and over."
Brown, who has been a board member for the Bantam League for 28 years, said they are working with out-of-town leagues to try and get more games for the Bronco league clubs.
There are five out-of-town teams in the Pony league, as teams from Frontier, Paden City, Shenandoah, Barlow-Vincent and Little Warren will compete with two squads from Marietta.
Overall, the athletes are ready to get things going.
"They're always excited to get started," Brown said.
"I think they're anxious. I know the older kids are anxious. They're tired of practices. They're ready to play some games."
Its seems that even bad weather won't keep the kids off the field. Recent storms caused some havoc at one of the fields, as the roof of one of the dugouts flew away in the wind and landed on the outfield fence, taking down roughly 200 feet.
Brown, with the help of some of the players' parents, was able to sort everything out Thursday and said that everything should be good to go for Saturday.