NORTH BEND — Rob Laskey looked up at the crowd of more than 200 fans in the Clyde Allen Field stands Tuesday night and declared the opening day of the Pacific Northwest Babe Ruth regional for the 14-year-old age group a success.
“It’s been a great day,” Laskey said.
Seven teams from Washington, Idaho and the northern part of Oregon have been in the Bay Area this week for the first-ever Babe Ruth regional to be held at Clyde Allen.
Laskey, the president of South Coast Babe Ruth, said the early feedback from the visiting coaches has been overwhelmingly favorable.
“The field looks great. The facilities are awesome. Everyone loves being on the coast,” Laskey said, relaying some of the comments he has heard.
He added that a number of the visiting coaches and fans arrived early in the Bay Area and took in activities including fishing and crabbing.
“A lot of positives have happened,” he said.
That included an emotional opening ceremony Tuesday night before the final game between the South Coast Lumberjacks, the host squad, and the Brewster Farmers of Washington.
The national Babe Ruth organization said host cities could not hold traditional opening ceremonies or banquets, but local organizers did their best to make the event special.
North Bend City Council member Bill Richardson threw out a ceremonial first pitch before the opening game of the tournament Tuesday morning.
In the evening, all eight teams paraded past home plate and lined up around the infield before Clark Anderson threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
That’s where the emotion came in. Anderson is the father of Cody Anderson, a former South Coast Babe Ruth and North Bend High School standout who was killed in a logging accident last summer.
Clark Anderson coached both Cody and his younger brother Brylee, who graduated from North Bend this year and also was at Clyde Allen Field Tuesday, and between his two sons, attended eight regional tournaments, coaching in four of them.
“It’s a huge part of my life watching these boys grow up and being able to coach Cody and Brylee and all the kids I coached over the years,” he said. “I truly think as a coach, you get more from the kids than you give out.”
Cody Anderson is permanently recognized at Clyde Allen Field with a sign with his name and number on the left field fence. The opposite fence has the name and number of Ian Spalding, one of Brylee’s closest friends who also died in an accident last summer.
“Just for people to remember Cody is huge to me,” Clark Anderson said. “He touched a lot of people — he doesn’t know how many.”
Clark Anderson’s stay at the ballpark Tuesday was cut short because of another big event on the South Coast he is a chief organizer for this week, Dune Fest in Winchester Bay.
“(Cody) helped with that the last 12 years with me,” Clark Anderson said, adding that his son also was recognized there. “It’s an honor to me (to throw out the first pitch) and to honor my son this way is huge, and to have Brylee be a part of this.
“It’s all about the kiddos for me.”
He noted that he and Mike Spalding, Ian’s dad, coached their sons together for years “and brought them up in this program.”
Clark Anderson was excited that after traveling so many years, it is rewarding to see a regional in the Bay Area.
“For us to host this is great, not only for the (South Coast), but also for the baseball community,” he said.
Clyde Allen Field always will hold a fond place in his heart.
“When Ian and Cody passed away, Brad (Horning) gave me access to come in here and just sit,” he said.
On Tuesday, hundreds sat in the various portions of the stadium to watch the start of a tournament that on Saturday will crown a regional champion headed to the Babe Ruth World Series in Ottumwa, Iowa.
And their presence was made possible by a bunch of volunteers helping run the event — Laskey said between the scorekeepers and announces, concession stand workers and field prep crew, 20 volunteers a day are helping out this week.
That doesn’t include at Marshfield High School, where Marshfield coach Floyd Montiel has opened his facilities for teams to have a warm-up time before their games.
“What’s been nice to me is hearing positive comments about how the tournament is going,” he said.
The semifinals for the tournament are at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with the championship game slated for 3:30 p.m. There is no admission charge.