League 42 opening day success

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “Play ball” is the cry this week at McAdams Park in Wichita as League 42 kicked off its season.

“We opened on Jackie Robinson Day, and that adds an extra layer of meaning to this year,” said League 42’s Bob Lutz on Monday. “Our opening nights are always big.”

Lutz says they will replace the stolen statue of Jackie Robinson this summer, but for now, it’s all about the baseball. And character building that League 42 teaches with every bat and every pitch.

New Jackie Robinson statue coming to Wichita this summer

“Our kids are eager to get going. Our coaches are eager to get going. Our families are eager to get going,” said Lutz.

Eric Bruckner has been coaching kids for 18 years and loves what League 42 brings to the players.

“More than just baseball,” said Bruckner on opening night. “Being able to build up people’s confidence. Build teamwork and build those relationships.”

As Bruckner worked on hitting with players before the first pitch, he talked about what League 42 does for the kids.

“These guys have done a great job of being leaders for each other. And growing up to be leaders for each other,” said Bruckner. “We bring in new people for the team. We may not always have the top guys, but I tell you what, they play for each other, and they work hard.”

Cleats from Jackie Robinson statue donated to museum

It’s the hard work, parents say, that is teaching their kids about both life and baseball.

“This league, we admire a lot,” said parent Karina Lopez. Her son has learned from practice, wanting to be on the team after watching a brother learn from League 42.

“It’s a big league and it means a lot for him to be here and be part of it. It means a lot. He has always wanted to be in it,” said Lopez. “He goes to practices and is a part of the atmosphere. He gets a lot of practice and just sees everybody as a leader, and he just follows them, and he sees the coaches. And he wants to be a coach.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KSN-TV.