LACONIA — The Laconia Little League opened its 61st season Saturday at Colby Field at Opechee Park Saturday with a moment of silence in memory of Lily Johnson, a 14-year-old Laconia Middle School student who died when she was struck by a car on the Messer Street bridge on April 19.
Her brother, Keegan, and Jacob Miner, whose sister Alyssa was injured in the same accident, threw out the first pitches of the new season. Alyssa, in a wheelchair, was present for the celebration and was treated to an ovation when it was announced that she was among the many spectators.
All of the players and coaches in the league will be wearing a ribbon with the name Lily on their uniforms, which will also have Richard C. Colby's initials, RCC, on the sleeve. Colby was one of the founders of Laconia Little League in 1953 and the playing field was named in his honor in 1982.
League President Eric Petell announced at the ceremony that the league is dedicating this season to the memory of Colby, who died last October at the age of 93. Players from each team piled flowers near home plate in memory of Colby.
After his death, Red Charland, who started coaching Little League teams in 1964 and himself had 40 years of involvement with the Laconia Little League, said, ''He left a mark that will never be forgotten. That's why the Little League field was named after him. He was probably the most even-tempered and caring person I ever worked with. He was the glue that held everything together for the Little League. Everyone respected him and he was always the person we turned to get things done.''
Colby was active in the Laconia Little League ever since it was founded in 1953, serving as a coach, manager, treasurer, vice president, president of the league as well as president of District Two in the state Little League organization.