Every summer – Photos of Opening Day in DecaturMarshall Kendrick, left, and Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham, right, shake hands with players in the city's summer youth baseball league. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
If summer could play in an endless loop and you had to pick one scene, there wouldn’t be many that could top opening day for youth baseball in Decatur.
The parade of teams rolled through Oakhurst on Saturday, June 7, as parents stood along East Lake Drive, cheering them on. There were Pirates and Giants and Yankees and Rockies. They waved from the back of pickup trucks, swinging pennants through the air as they headed toward Oakhurst Park.
As the players and their parents circled the field, the air filled with dust and the smell of sunscreen. The scene kicked up memories of the late Shirley Kendrick, called Ms. Shirley by most, the woman who ran the concession stand and could never turn a child away, even if they didn’t have enough money. Her death shocked the community, and the day was dedicated to her. Her husband, Marshall Kendrick, was the parade Grand Marshall and threw the first pitch.
Decatur Active Living Director Greg White said that “every summer” from 1999 to 2013, Ms. Shirley was there in Oakhurst Park, smiling from behind the concession stand.
The Active Living staff placed two plants at home plate, a nod to Ms. Shirley’s yard.
“Today is known as Shirley Kendrick Opening Day Baseball,” White said as the crowd cheered Marshall Kendrick, who was standing on the pitcher’s mound. “Moving forward, every opening day we’ll do something honor of Mrs. Kendrick.”
Marshall Kendrick threw the ball up in an arc and it thumped on the ground beside the waiting catcher. He gathered his plants and left the field. He said his wife, “would think this was wonderful. She would sit down here and cry.”
“I know she’s smiling right now,” Kendrick said. “She’s looking down at me. She came through this morning.”
There was a sign on the concession stand that said, “Shirley’s Snack Shack.”