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  • Yankee great Willie Randolph ran around the infield, high-fiving excited kids - and their parents.

  • The kids were all smiles being introduced as teams on the big opening night.

  • The littlest team of Pirates listened and watched the ceremony.

  • Kids were ready to have some fun.

  • Teams lined the infield as they were announced last Thursday to open the Little League season.

  • Willie Randolph coached the big league Mets and played for them a bit too. Here he visits with their Little League counterparts.

  • Willie Randolph poses with the catchers who took the ceremonial first itches. From left, Danny Sullivan, Matthew Evanchick and Corbin Johnson.

  • Willie Randolph fired the first pitch to Little League Majors Yankee and Mets catchers.

  • Willie Randolph brought lots of smiles to the kids as he ran around the infield dirt high fiving them.

  • Willie Randolph signed baseballs for fans. Here, Patrick McMurdy, a student at the Okinawan Karate School in Kinnelon, gets several baseballs signed. In line behind him are Chris Miller, owner of the school, and Christine Touw, an assitant instructor. Okinawan Karate School was one of the sponsors for the night.

  • This gentleman brought an old Yankee jacket for Willie Randolph to sign.

  • It's what every player dreams of. Willie Randolph donned one of his World Championship rings.

On a beautiful but cool Thursday night in April, West Milford's Little League opened for the 2014 season. Hundreds of excited players lined the infield at the field behind Hillcrest, some beginning their Little League careers, others finishing theirs. And again this year, they all got to meet a player who lived the dream of all Little Leaguers.

Former Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph was the special guest. With two World Series championships as a player, he's certainly been to the pinnacle of the sport. Yet, he talked to the kids and the coaches about the importance of learning the fundamentals but having fun while they do it. His most important message wasn't even about baseball.

"Make sure you hit the books," he told the eager kids.

Randolph also had some fun with the crowd. While the teams - from T-ball up through the majors - lined the infield dirt, Randolph ran from one end to the other and back, high-fiving players and their coaches. He stood on his familiar spot, out on second base. And when it came time to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, he exaggeratedly rubbed his fingers to his neck, a poke at Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda who, the night before, was ejected from a game for smearing pine tar on his neck. That got a chuckle from many in the crowd.

Randolph threw three ceremonial pitches, fittingly to major' catchers for the Yankees and Mets teams. And he didn't toss them easily. He surprised the kids by throwing fast balls.

After the festivities, Randolph signed memorabilia from fans, many of whom reminisced about his stellar playing career.

"Willie Randolph!" shouted one very excited fan. "You've given me so many happy memories! Thank you!"

"I had a lot of fun doing it," answered Randolph.

For more photos of the evening, go to westmilfordmessenger.com.

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