ALACHUA ‒ The crack of the bat, the cheers from the crowd, and the smell of freshly cut grass filled the air as the Babe Ruth 38th Opening Day Jamboree kicked off on Saturday. Good weather and a full schedule of baseball drew crowds to the much-anticipated opening day of the season at Alachua's Hal Brady Recreation Complex World Series Field.

Babe Ruth Baseball is one of the largest and most respected youth baseball organizations in the world. Catering to players ages 4 - 18, the program offers a range of divisions suited to players of all skill levels, from T-Ball for beginners to the elite Cal Ripken Major/70 division for experienced players.

The jamboree, which brought together young athletes from various schools and communities, was designed to foster sportsmanship, teamwork, and healthy competition. All teams participated from Tball to Seniors (13-15). Afterwards, games were played throughout the remainder of the day.

Ben Boukari served as the jamboree emcee, offering enthusiastic commentary highlighting the determination and skill of the young athletes. Dignitaries present for the opening ceremony were City of Alachua Commissioners Shirley Green Brown and Ed Potts. Also attending were Alachua Police Department Sgt. Hunt, Recreation & Culture Assistant Director Stephanie McDonald and Crew Leader Jack Hansen as well as Parks & R.E.C Director Jennifer Applebee. High Springs Police Chief Antoine Sheppard attended representing the City of High Springs.

“The Babe Ruth opening day celebration is an exciting and fun experience,” said Commissioner Brown. “It’s always a pleasure to see the children.”

Al Beckelheimer Jr., received the “Hal Brady Award” for his service to the community. Beckelheimer served as president of the league during the 2014 World Series when the local boys team came in third place. Also, before becoming president, Beckelheimer volunteered as a league advisor, player agent and vice president.

“Thank you to all the volunteers how put in countless hours for the event,” said City of Alachua Recreation & Culture Department Director Damon Messina. “Santa Fe Babe Ruth’s Will Moore and his board did a great job.”

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