June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Irvine Pony Memorial Day Tournament opens with parade of teams

Players, coaches and parents look on during the Irvine Pony Memorial Day Tournament opening day ceremonies Thursday. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Stands were packed at Harvard Park and the baseball field was filled with youngsters and coaches taking part in opening ceremonies for the 32nd annual Irvine Pony Baseball Memorial Day Tournament Thursday at Harvard Park.

“We have a record turnout of 286 teams,” said tournament director Stacie Sloniger. “Twenty-one of those teams are from Mexico. It’s a big, big tournament so we’re expecting a lot of fun to happen. The weather is going to cooperate, so we’re excited about that.

“We can’t do this without everybody, without all the staff, without the City of Irvine. It takes a lot of people to put this on.”

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

There is also one team from Utah for the first time, Sloniger said.

Irvine Pony President JD Hardin honored long-time umpire Steve Gaffney, who has been the league’s lead umpire and been on the board a long time and is retiring.

“His son played here 20 years ago, he’s also been a varsity high school umpire for about 18 years so he’s put a lot of time and energy into Irvine Pony Baseball and we appreciate it,” Sloniger said.

Gaffney’s wife Marlene and son Andrew represented Steve Gaffney.

Irvine Vice Mayor Larry Agran welcomed the players, coaches and their families and said the tournament “provided positive experiences for all the young players.”

Games will continue through the weekend at Harvard Park and other city parks.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com