FORT WAYNE – It was easy Friday at the annual Mr. Mac Day to see the effect that Wildcat Baseball founder Dale McMillen has had on the Fort Wayne community.
The event celebrated the end of the 54th Wildcat Baseball season at Kreager Park and brought together all the league’s participants, from various locations, all for the sake of baseball.
Players competed in accuracy and distance throws, hit off baseball tees, took part in base-running and throwing relays and played in all-star games for the different age groups.
Trophies were awarded to the top 10 finishers in the competitions, and the all-star game winners, and ribbons were given to every player who participated in a competition.
League President Bill Derbyshire estimated there were 1,200 to 1,500 people at Mr. Mac Day.
Wildcat Baseball had 2,200 participants this year.
For players, parents, coaches and volunteers, every year the Wildcat season proves to be a positive experience.
It’s an amazing thing, parent Shelia Orr said. It’s a positive, fun learning experience and it’s all about making friends.
Orr’s son 10-year-old son, Colton, agreed.
It really is about making friends, he said.
This was Colton’s second year playing, and he’s already excited to return next year.
I had some nice hits, and nice plays this year, he said. I want to come back next year and give the all-star game another shot.
The league prides itself on its philosophy – everyone makes the team – and focuses on teaching techniques and learning the intricacies of the game.
Ayden Raber, 11, used to play in another league but prefers Wildcat.
They actually taught us pitching and hitting techniques, he said. During a game, if someone makes an error, they stop the game and fix it.
Thomas Davis, 7, could tell a difference, too.
They taught us how to bat, he said, and throw and hit farther.
As much as the players love learning, the coaches love teaching.
I love working with kids and seeing them get better, third year Hamilton Park coach Kelsey Richard said. I love making an impact and teaching them the game I love.
Coach Eric Fenstermacher loved Mr. Mac Day when he played as a kid and loves coming back as a coach every year.
When I was playing, I liked the open competitions and seeing the way my abilities stacked up, he said. Mr. Mac Day is a unique experience for the players. The whole program is in one spot for a day and everyone can compete in the events.
The 2014 Wildcat Baseball season officially concludes after next week’s games on July 25.