Even as a hard rain fell, David Bickers and his Southern Exposures landscape crew were hard at work preparing the NYO fields for Opening Day ceremonies. Baselines and batters boxes needed to be chalked, infields smoothed and treated with a drying agent to absorb the moisture. Rare is the day that a mere shower cancels NYO games. It's a routine David and his guys follow seven days a week from mid-March to late May when baseball and softball return to the Chastain fields. On Saturdays and Sundays, when games begin early, field preparation can start before sun-up.
But this day would be special. One of the highest honors NYO bestows is to ask someone special to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. This year, David and six members of his crew were afforded that honor. As they lined up at the mound of the Jane Wilkins Bronco field, the seven men eyed the young catchers to whom they would throw. For David Bickers, who grew up playing NYO baseball and whose sons have followed his lead, it marked the first time he had pitched on the field since 1982. He threw a strike. With that, Opening Day ceremonies concluded. And David and his crew headed back to their equipment to insure NYO's fields remained among the very best of any youth recreational program in the country.