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William S. Hart Pony League turns 60

Posted: February 8, 2014 10:10 p.m.
Updated: February 8, 2014 10:10 p.m.

Olympic Gold medalist in softball Nicole Guordano, center, signs autographs for 9- and 10-year-olds of the William S. Hart Pony League girls softball at the League's 60th anniversary event held at the league's sports complex.

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Every time James Shields takes the mound, he does so remembering the lessons he learned during his time in William S. Hart Baseball and Softball.

The Kansas City Royals starter and former Hart High School standout said Saturday that what he gleaned from his years in the Santa Clarita Valley youth sports organization — lessons like respect, pride, accountability and integrity — have followed him all the way to the big leagues.

“Now that I’m in the big leagues, I actually hear guys talk about William S. Hart baseball,” he said.

Shields was one of hundreds who turned out Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s most recognizable organizations.

Over the decades, the organization has grown from a collection of teams playing on a field near Saugus Cafe to a burgeoning group with approximately 1,800 baseball and softball players who make their home at a complex in Valencia.

League President Arnie Durazo said Saturday much of the credit for the organization’s success belongs to its devoted volunteers.

“You don’t get to 60 years without these types of folks on your board or in your organization,” he said.

Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste and City Councilman Bob Kellar presented a plaque congratulating the organization for “knocking it out of the park” over the last six decades.

“The city could not be more proud of what you do,” Weste said.

Softball standout Nicole Giordano, an Olympic gold medalist and a national champion at the University of Arizona, said she too owes a great deal of her success to the organization.

“I honestly would not have had any of that success were it not for William S. Hart,” she said.

Giordano and Shields helped kick off the spring baseball and softball season by throwing out the ceremonial first pitches.

“The 2014 spring season has officially begun,” Durazo said. “Play ball!”

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