WILMINGTON, MA — Below is an announcement from the Wilmington Little League, written by President Jaret Butler:
Wilmington Little League Opening Day has a different meaning for everyone. For some it is the chance to see their sons and daughters play the sports they grew up playing. For others it means spring is here and the kids get a chance to be outside. And even for some, it is the hot dogs out in left field after the parade is over. As a parent of two kids in the program, opening day for me was a little of everything above, but 2018 Opening Day was different, this was my first as Little League President.
We were coming off a winter that we would all like to forget and I was nervous about the weather and the filed conditions. With some good fortune we had decent weather on Friday and the DPW was able to perform their magic and get Rotary Field groomed and it looked fantastic. We had a great group of volunteers from the board down at the fields crossing off tasks on our to-do list to ensure we would be ready for the parade on Saturday. The weather for Saturday was forecasted to be partly cloudy and in the high 50’s, not great but you deal with what you get in New England.
I am not sure how much I really slept that Friday night. I reviewed my opening address several times, reconfirmed the guest list, ran through the checklist in my head of things that needed to be done Saturday morning before the kids marched down to the filed from the 4thof July Building and replayed the sequence of events I anticipated over and over. I arrived at the field early on Saturday and with the help of others we began the final preparations of the field to get ready for the parade. We were set to go and it was now just a matter of time before the kids were escorted to the field by the Police and Fire departments to the welcome sounds of the Wilmington Minutemen and their muskets.
Around 9 AM Representative Miceli arrived at the field as he did each year for opening day. I had never met him but having lived in Wilmington for the last 12 years he was certainly a name that was well known around town. I walked over to his car to introduce myself and thank him for coming and to give him a schedule of events that were to happen that morning. I did not know what to expect when meeting Mr. Miceli but what I did get was priceless. Mr. Miceli shook my hand and immediately started telling me stories of past opening days and how he had enjoyed watching his own kids and grandkids play sports and how he especially looked forward to WLL opening day each year. We spent about 10 or so minutes talking and during that time I felt like I was talking to a proud grandparent rather than a senior politician, it was a great conversation and one I don’t know I was expecting.
The events that transpired shortly thereafter were surreal and the details forever engrained in my memory. While we decided to end the opening ceremonies immediately, a discussion with some senior members of the board led to a decision to play the games that day as we believed it would be something Representative Miceli would want us to do.
During our next board meeting we discussed the events that transpired at opening day. As in many cases of a tragic event you can slowly put aside the pain and start the remember the good memories. While nobody claimed to know Mr. Miceli personally several board members shared stories about him, whether it was past opening days, time on the campaign trails, or field trips to the Statehouse with their children. There was a common theme in all of the stories, Representative Miceli was a kind and friendly man who cared about the citizens of Wilmington.
During subsequent meetings as we started to discuss opening day 2019 and how we could honor Mr. Miceli at opening day 2019. Jay Kelley brought the idea of naming the Major League Championship trophy after Mr. Miceli. With the blessing of the Miceli family we moved forward. The trophy would be presented to the winner of the playoffs for the Majors Division each year and would be now known as the James R. Miceli Championship Trophy. The trophy was presented to the 2018 Wilmington Orioles and manager Brian Kane as well as a few members of last years’ team at the WLL Pasta Dinner on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. The trophy will remain on display at the Rotary Snack Shack until I have the privilege of presenting the James R. Miceli Championship Trophy to the 2019 winners!