SCARBOROUGH (NEWS CENTER Maine) — Baseball is America’s pastime and it doesn't matter where you're from, if you're male or female, or how old you are...baseball transcends it all.
Generations can and should learn from each other but for many Maine youth it can be rare to get the opportunity to rub shoulders with seniors other than those in their families.
An assisted living center in Scarborough is trying to do something to change that through baseball. For the first time, Atria in Scarborough has sponsored a little league team in town, aptly named Atria.
A few weeks ago, on a warm spring evening, residents from the residential living facility came out to cheer on the little leaguers sporting their name.
“We used to play in the middle of the street in my day,” said Atria resident Lucille Garland.
Garland is from Old Orchard Beach. She almost didn't come out to the game but says she is glad she did.
“I think it is great and it gives them something to do other than staying at home and getting into trouble,” says Garland as she watches the young players.
From the baseball bleachers, the residents sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" for the little leaguers as they ate cracker jacks and cheered for the boys. But the seniors really lit up as the players came out to the stands to chat with them throughout the game and shake their hands.
“This generation isn’t going to be around forever so this is a time where kids should be encouraged to talk to older adults," says Atria official Amber Wilson.
For seniors, spending time with children and youth helps bring back a lot of memories and revitalizes them, Wilson says. Atria offers 250 outings a month to keep their residents active in the community.
Bob Brown remembers playing baseball all through school. His nickname is 'Rabbit' because much like the young players he is enjoying watching, he was gregarious but a bit incorrigible; no stranger to mischief when he was their age.
Brown says growing up in Vermont a neighbor caught him, red-handed, pulling a carrot out of his garden.
"He said I’m going to name you rabbit! And it stuck all the way through high school and through baseball."
Brown says playing baseball as a youth helped keep him on the "right path" and he thinks it is going to help the young boys through their life too.
Kelly Bristol, Scarborough Little League Board Member, was part of the impetus for having the assisted living facility involved in the league.
“I think it is really good for the little boys to see the older people in our community. Sometimes they can be afraid of older people because they don't know them or they think they are really fragile. So I think it is great for them to see them and interact with them," says Bristol.
Despite their best effort, the Atria team lost the game 4 to 5, but the young players made their new fans feel like winners.
But the friendships won't be left on the baseball bleachers, Atria residents and little leaguers are looking forward to a cookout at Atria at the end of the season.
Player Evan Crum may have said it best, “I think old people should get good care of.”
We couldn't agree more Evan.