It's time to play ball!

Special guest Yankee great Willie Randolph opens Little League season Thursday

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  • Photo from Former Yankees and Mets player Willie Randolph will throw out the first pitch at the opening night of the West Milford Little League on Thursday, April 24.

Play ball! Thursday opens West Milford's Little League season and, as has been the case for the past few years, the Little League has a big night on tap to kick off the 2014 season. Former New York Yankees second baseman, captain and coach Willie Randolph will be the special guest throwing out the first pitch.

Randolph grew up in Brooklyn and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1972. He made his major league debut at age 21 in 1975. Later that year, Randolph came back home when he was traded to the Yankees.

In 1976, he took his spot at second base for the Yankees and was instrumental in the phenomenal success of the team that went on to win its first American League pennant in over a decade, and then two consecutive world championships in 1977 and 1978.

Randolph spent 13 years as a New York Yankee, a few as co-captain with another Yankee great, Ron Guidry.

But wait. Randolph doesn't just bring back great memories for Yankee fans. He also gave cross-town rivals, The New York Mets, some pretty good seasons as the team's manager. He ended his playing career with the Mets too. After his playing career, Randolph was a base and bench coach for the Yankees for 11 seasons. But he was manager material and signed on with the Mets to manage for the 2005 season. Each year he managed the Mets, he improved on the previous year's record. That first season, he managed them to an 83-79 record, the first time the team finished above .500 since 2001. In 2006, the Mets finished with a 97-65 league-best record. He was one game away from taking them to the World Series and finished second in the National League Manager of the Year voting.

In all, Randolph won six world championships with the Yankees, two as a player and four as a coach. He is also a six-time all star.

And he will be in West Milford on Thursday to usher in the 2014 Little League season.

The event kicks off with introductions at the Hillcrest Field at 6:50 p.m.

Parking is available at Hillcrest with overflow parking at the PAL building with shuttles back and forth. There is no parking on the street.

West Milford resident Christina Limos will sing the National Anthem. Outback Steakhouse of Butler will be on hand selling food.

West Milford Little League Vice President Mark Minadeo said the sponsors who are making Randolph's appearance possible deserve a shout out.

"I would especially like to give many thanks to the sponsors who stepped up to cover Willie's appearance," said Minadeo. "They are the West Milford PBA, The Sports Authority, Weatherbug, The Grasshopper, S2L Sentenced-2-Life (clothing line), Oliday Tours and Allstate agent Berk Demirbulakli."

There will be a new Little League raffle with some big prizes, including a $5,000 Visa gift card, flat screen TV, iPads, ShopRite gift cards and more. Raffle tickets will be available for sale at the game.

Come out and cheer on the future stars of West Milford Little League and get to met a Yankee and Met star, all on the same night.

Essential information

Little League Opening Night

Thursday, April 24

Hillcrest Field

6:50 p.m. introductions

Special guest - Willie Randolph

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