Play ball!

Harper Woods Little League hosts registration for 60th year

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published January 28, 2015

HARPER WOODS — The winter chill lingers, but the buds of spring are right around the corner. And that means the start of the Little League baseball season, which is a big deal in Harper Woods.

For the league, it’s even more exciting this year.

“This is a very big season for (Harper Woods Little League),” HWLL President Tony Talerico said in an email. “We are celebrating our 60th year of baseball in Little League this season.”

It’s a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

“We have some third-generation family members playing,” Talerico said.

The Opening Day parade, a popular event in the city, is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 25, followed by the Opening Day ceremonies at Johnston Park and games starting at 1 p.m. that day.

The league is open to boys ages 4-18 years old and offers softball for girls 7-16 years old. A new option this year is online registration, but the league also is hosting registration at the high school from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.

The league is also open to Eastpointe residents, as well as students of public or private schools in either city.

“Eastpointe is a part of Harper Woods Little League; most do not realize it,” Tom Jenkins, HWLL board member, said in an email. “Any residents or kids who go to school in Eastpointe are eligible to play in HWLL and try out for tournament teams.”

HWLL is a big league that had 24 teams in seven divisions with nearly 300 players last year.

“The City of Harper Woods has always been associated as running a very successful Little League program,” Talerico said. “We offer a very competitive and affordable program for the residents. The school board and all of the schools in the district (including the Eastpointe schools) have been very cooperative with us to spread the word about baseball in the community. 

“The league also provides a structured program that offers consistency for planning for parents and, hopefully, a healthy source of exercise and being part of a team,” he said.

The league launched the online registration this year.

In 2012, the league built a T-ball diamond at Johnston Park.

“It’s been a huge success,” Talerico said.

They’ve grown in recent years and expanded the girls softball program in 2014 by merging three Grosse Pointe Little League organizations into one league.

“This arrangement continues in 2015, and now the girls’ program falls under the HWLL Charter,” Talerico said.

They have some big events coming up.

Because the league has been successful in hosting big tournaments in the past and it is known for its upkeep of its fields, the league was chosen as the location for a major tournament this year.

“HWLL is hosting the state 12-year-old baseball tournament beginning July 25. The top 16 teams in the state of Michigan will be here, including teams from the UP.  The winner of the state tournament advances to the regional in Indianapolis, and the winner there moves to Williamsport.  This is the same tournament that GP Woods Shores started their journey (at) in 2012 to Williamsport. 

“It is a huge honor for the league and something the entire community should be proud of,” he said.

Talerico praised the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for the condition of the ball diamonds.

“The fields are very well-manicured and maintained by the dedicated staff,” he said.

Jenkins agreed, calling them “some of the nicest, most well-kept fields in the state, all located at the same location.”

He mentioned the assistance of many more in the community, as well.

“HWLL continues to remain a viable organization through the exhaustive efforts of our Board of Directors, other volunteers, coaches, players and (others),” he said.

The league is gearing up for the season with plans for the first practices to begin in early April. Yet, the league has also been hosting its Winter Workshops, which run from December to March.

For more information or to register online, visit www.harperwoods