[KHTS] – Generations of baseball and softball players came together Saturday morning to celebrate the 60th Anniversary Opening Day Ceremonies of the William S. Hart Baseball and Softball League.
League President Arnie Durazo estimated about 2,000 people came to the ceremony, and predicted there were many examples of three or four generations of families who all grew up playing baseball together in attendance.
Hart PONY Baseball veteran James Shields of the Kansas City Royals signs autographs.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields and 2004 USA Softball Olympic team member Nicole Giordano also made an appearance at the event. Both played for the Hart Baseball and Softball League.
Durazo thinks the event drew such a large crowd because Hart has such a long history with the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We’ve been here so long, you have to ask, why 60 years?” Durazo asked. “It’s because we have a great community, it shows what a great place we live in.”
Durazo said he enjoys volunteering his time to the league because he loves seeing his kids having fun. He coached all three of his children and remembers his father coaching him.
“Baseball is family oriented, I pick my teams based on family,” he said. “There’s nothing like a good group of kids coming together to have fun, being in the dug out with friends and going into battle together.”
Natalie Schuhler is the league’s publicity director, and like Durazo, she has also coached all of her children. She said her and her oldest son love to talk baseball, hit in the batting cages and watch games together.
“To share that with him is a different level,” she said. “It feels like I get to extend that part of my childhood more with him because I get to play this game with him that I love.”
Schuhler’s son was sadly unable to attend the ceremony and meet one of his favorite players, Shields, because he was sick. But she was able to bring her daughter and see many of the kids and parents she has played with over the years.
“To be able to touch the lives of these kids and families, especially if it’s their first time playing baseball, is a privilege,” she said. “It sounds corny, but it’s true.”