This past Saturday, May 15th, The Pawtucket Slaterettes Girls’ and Women’s Baseball League held an amazing Opening Day in front of family, friends, current and former players, coaches, and their community. Since their announcement of Opening Day, I have had this event “circled” on my Google calendar and was hopeful that Mother Nature would cooperate. After checking the weather all week and messaging the group page on Facebook, I was so thrilled to take the drive up to Pawtucket’s Boys and Girls Club to be a part of the Slaterettes Opening Day. And I am here to tell you it did not disappoint!!!
The Pawtucket Slaterettes, according to their media pages, “gives girls and women from RI and nearby MA the opportunity to come together to play baseball (not softball).” They play their home games at the Pawtucket Boys and Girls Club, which is short drive off Exit 28 on Route 95, passed the street signs for McCoy Stadium and the former Pawtucket Red Sox, then down a small hill into the parking lot overlooking three awesome baseball fields. I arrived Saturday morning just as the parade participants (players and coaches) were lining up to march proudly down the hill, along the perimeter of the outfield fencing, then into the main field for the Opening Day ceremonies. Two volunteers stopped me as I approached the field and asked me if I was a parent. I said yes, but not to a Slaterette. I was media and I was a fan, not necessarily in that order. We laughed, I bought a raffle ticket, and then proceeded towards the fields.
As the parade and its marchers were still being assembled, I took the opportunity to walk around the fields. The City of Pawtucket Parks and Recreation did a fantastic job grooming the fields, lining the bases, and preparing the fields with appropriate safety signage. All three fields at the Boys and Girls Club are in use for the Slaterettes. The main field, where the ceremony was held, is the Juniors Division field. The field to the right as you are walking down the path is for the Slaterettes’ instructional league. The field all the way to the end of the facility is for the Slaterettes’ Tee Ball Division. Again, fantastic job by the Parks and Recreation Department to make these fields safe and ready for baseball.
I spotted a photographer’s tent set up in the field just past the Juniors Division field and walked over to introduce myself. The tent belonged to TSS Photography out of Middletown, RI and from what I discovered were now in their 20th year of capturing Pawtucket Slaterettes Baseball players. I spoke with Marie Twomey, who mentioned the proud 20 year commitment to the Slaterettes. Marie and TSS Photography are also a team sponsor of Slaterettes Baseball. She clued me in on another cool story. The woman who would be singing the National Anthem was a former Slaterette, Kyleigh Arenas. Marie told me that Kyleigh’s Tee Ball photo is one of her favorites. Apparently, Kyleigh took her individual photo with the bat held upside down. Marie remembers snapping the photo and it remains one of her favorite memories of photographing the Slaterettes. You can check out TSS Photography online at www.tssphotography.com.
It was getting close to parade time, as I could see some movement from the shaded area of the parking lot, so I proceeded down to the field area. I was able to find a spot to capture the processional, with players of all ages holding sponsorship banners, some teams chanting, parents screaming out their player’s names. Here is a slideshow of the teams and sponsors who have supported the Slaterettes baseball program this season.
Down the path and into the baseball field, one by one the teams took their positions in and around the infield and outfield areas. Master of ceremonies Bethanie Rado and some other volunteers helped position the teams before Bethanie took the microphone to start the Opening Day ceremonies. Bethanie and I have connected on a few articles and social media posts over the past year or so, so it was great to finally see her hard work come to light. Bethany welcomed family, friends, alumni, players and coaches and announced that this was the 40th season for the Pawtucket Slaterettes. She talked about what that meant to her and others who have supported girls and women’s’ baseball over the years. I could hear the emotion and passion in her voice and her speech. This day meant A LOT to A LOT of people and it was so wonderful to see it unfold in front of me.
As Marie Twomey had mentioned, Slaterettes alumnus Kyleigh Arenas was asked to sing the National Anthem. She did an amazing job in front a pretty decent crowd of fans, players and coaches, all standing proudly with their baseball caps off. The, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien was introduced and spoke to the crowd about the importance of recreational programs such as the Slaterettes baseball program. Bethanie spoke about the incredible support from the City of Pawtucket, including the Mayor’s office and the Parks and Recreation Department. She mentioned the many important sponsors who have supported the Slaterettes not only this season, but in season’s passed. Bethanie then called on each team to stand and be recognized, along with their coach.
After the teams were announced, it was time for the traditional “First Pitch” and Bethanie called up Slaterettes alumni extraordinaire Tina Trahan. I met Tina, via email, through Deb Bettencourt, who is another amazing Slaterettes alumnus and supporter. Tina participated in a Women’s Fantasy Camp at the Boston Red Sox facility in Fort Myers, Florida. We spoke about her experience and Tina was gracious enough to send me photos and outline her experience at the camp. It was a really fun article to write and I was so excited to watch Tina throw out the first pitch. Bethanie had a wonderful speech (courtesy of Deb Bettencourt) that outlined some of the incredible accomplishments Tina has had in her baseball career. Tina is truly a Slaterettes legend and she fired a strike to the catcher at home plate, officially opening the 40th season of the Pawtucket Slaterettes. Well, actually shortly after the first pitch, Bethanie got back on the microphone and yelled out “Let’s Play Ball,” which I suppose also marks the beginning of the season.
After the Opening Day remarks, National Anthem, First Pitch thrown, and chant of “Let’s Play Ball,” teams were escorted off the field and over to the picture tent. I waited to greet Bethanie as she walked off the field. She was rocking all sorts of emotions and looked to be absolutely overwhelmed with pride and joy. We spoke briefly, as I knew she was super busy with coordinating the rest of the Opening Day ceremonies. She was just so happy that the families and players could participate in such a historic event and be a part of this great Slaterettes tradition. In fact, she mentioned that her program registration numbers were looking very strong and even an improvement from year’s passed. She mentioned that the Juniors Division would be playing in a game at 11am, so I let her get back to the business of running her league. I spotted Tina speaking with Mayor Grebien and waited patiently on the bleachers for her to finish. Tina and I had a great conversation and it was awesome to meet and speak to her in person. She did mention that she will be going back to the Boston Red Sox Women’s Fantasy Camp in 2022, so I am sure I will be emailing her to follow up on that experience. It was so awesome meeting Bethanie and Tina at Opening Day.
So, it is now official – the Pawtucket Slaterettes Girls’ and Women’s’ Baseball League is now underway. The 40th season of Slaterettes baseball is sure to be as memorable as ever for these players, coaches, and families. And if you look in the stands, there are always former Slaterettes at the games cheering on the next generation of baseball players. The Slaterettes is such an incredible baseball organization here in Rhode Island and I was so happy to attend their Opening Day. Good luck to all the players, coaches, and families participating this year for the Pawtucket Slaterettes Girls’ and Women’s’ Baseball League!!!
For more information on the Slaterettes, you can go to www.slaterettes.com.