Youth Baseball Returns To Gulfport

It took a near Herculean effort to rescue the hurricane battered Bayou View baseball fields in time for opening day.

"It's taken about three months and the city has been behind us all the way," says Gulfport Youth Sports President Ricky Dombrowski. "They thought we were going to have to play somewhere else, but they made it happen. They came through for us. It's going to be a great season and we're looking forward to getting it kicked off."

And who better to do that, than a genuine Gulfport hero, well experienced in the practice of hurricane rescue.

"I'm very humbled to be the person out here doing this," says Gulfport Police Lt. Mike Shaw, prior to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Shaw was recently awarded the Police Star for the exceptional courage he showed the morning Katrina made landfall.

"We received a distress call from Oak Avenue right off 2nd avenue near the beach," says Shaw. "I responded down there. There were some people in the house that was basically underwater, about a foot from the top of the door. I went in to get them and we managed to get out safely.

It was a similar distress call earlier this year that brought the city and a whole host of volunteer organization to Bayou View Park's rescue.

"This brings them back home," says Dombroski. "They're playing in their normal fields. They're playing in their neighborhood area where they need to be playing, and they're really excited. You can see it in their eyes. They're just happy to be out here playing baseball."

And Lt. Shaw is happy to be part of yet another celebration of renewal over ruin.

"This is what's going to help us rebuild," says Shaw. "You know we're not the victims of Katrina. We are the survivors and that's our mentality and where we need to be headed."