The opening of the Cal Ripken Babe Ruth League baseball and softball season on Saturday came with a touch of “Mayberry RFD” when the ball teams were brought onto the Community Center field in wagons pulled by teams of two Clydesdale horses.
The horses and the wagons were made possible by Charlie Evans of the Cal Crush operation located on the south side of the community – a mobile rock crushing and recycling firm continually dedicated to Ripon activities.
Jason Dougherty served as the master of ceremonies from home plate as the players stood along the baseline from first to third base from where they were introduced. The honor guard from the Ripon High JROTC Battalion presented the colors during the singing of the National Anthem by RHS senior Jami Meyers and the firing of the JROTC’s howitzer canon.
Ripon’s Bud Schemper threw out the first pitch to Giants’ catcher Gregory Clark, 12, who signed the baseball for Schemper before shaking his hand and giving him the ball. Schemper later told of having played catcher on that same field as a 10-year-old boy for two teams, Tradeway Chevrolet and Nestles Coffee. He later coached his own kids on the Community Center field.
Some players received five pound candy bars for their achievements in selling fundraising candy in preparation for the kick-off of play. The three top sellers received cash awards of $100, $50 and $25 each. All ran to home plate at top game speed to receive their awards with ear-to-ear grins.
The $100 winner was Rhylee Magazinovic, 9, of the Lady Aggies. Her smile, especially, told of her excitement and appreciation for the award after selling three cases of candy bars. She turned her head mid-field for an instant in her dash and smiled back at home plate.
A number of devoted grandparents sat in the seats and stood on the grassy areas with their family members, some having traveled many miles to be a part of the opening day in Ripon Babe Ruth history and that of their grandchildren. Two of those were Marty Linton, formerly of Sunnyvale now living in Ripon, and Alice Wilson of Salinas.