The Royal Oak Hornets pose for a team photo during the summer of 1965. What started as the Royal Oak Baseball Federation in 1959 has since grown, adding softball leagues and T-ball for children as young as 4 years old.

The Royal Oak Hornets pose for a team photo during the summer of 1965. What started as the Royal Oak Baseball Federation in 1959 has since grown, adding softball leagues and T-ball for children as young as 4 years old.

Photo provided by David Hayes


Royal Oak Sandlot League celebrating 60 years

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published July 15, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — For nearly six decades, opening day for the Royal Oak Sandlot League has come and gone without much pomp and circumstance. There would be a ceremonial first pitch, but no real celebration ran hand in hand with such an important day in the baseball and softball world.

So when the 60th anniversary rolled around June 1, league Vice President David Hayes and other board members wanted to turn opening day into a celebration to remember.

“This year we switched things up,” Hayes said. “At our 60th anniversary, we basically threw a party. Our opening day was something to behold.”

Opening day still had its ceremonial first pitch — thrown by Royal Oak Mayor Mike Fournier — but there was much more added to celebrate the milestone.

There was a home run derby for various age groups, a pitch-hit-and-run contest, food trucks, team pictures, and a sponsor area where players and parents had the opportunity to meet the local businesses that sponsor the league.

“It was fantastic,” Hayes said of the reception. “I did not hear a negative thing at all about it. They were really glad that we did it. It was a breath of fresh air.”

Hayes grew up in Royal Oak and after a stint in Bloomfield Township, he returned to his hometown, where he still lives today. As a kid, he and his brothers participated in the Sandlot League, starting in T-ball and working their way up through the six different divisions the league offers.

Hayes said some of his favorite memories from the league have to do with competing against his friends and making new ones along the way.

“It was outstanding,” Hayes said. “It was where we first learned how to compete. At the time, everybody that I played with grew up in my neighborhood.

“The experiences that I had, I wasn’t always on the best team, but it was fun.”

Various sponsors, along with a strong sense of community in Royal Oak, are the driving force behind the league’s ability to stick around for six decades.

Without the support of sponsors such as the Royal Oak Lions Club, the Elks Club and the Royal Oak Women’s Club, among many others, Hayes said there would have been a lot lost.

As for the league itself, the implementation of a beginners T-ball league and fast-pitch softball have built up a competitive nature and brought new members to the league.

In its simplest form, the ROSL is a league that offers baseball and softball to any kid who wants to play no matter the skill level. Aside from that, it is a place to form lifelong relationships with those around. That’s what Hayes hopes players take away from their time in the Royal Oak Sandlot League.

“There’s no question that it’s important to make friends in the community because we’re all here, (so) we’ve got to pull together,” he said. “It’s something that’s fantastic.”

For more information on the league, visit royaloaksandlot.com.

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