1. Field of Dreams No one was happier to see the first Palisades Pony Baseball Association games played at the Palisades Recreation Center’s new ‘Field of Dreams’ complex than Citizen of the Year Mike Skinner, who took the task of improving the facility’s worn down fields to heart. Skinner was presented several gifts by PPBA Commissioner Bob Benton at the Opening Day fesitivities in March, after which he joined fellow Palisadians Bill Simon (the former gubernatorial candidate) and fitness guru Jake Steinfeld in throwing out the first pitches to officially begin the PPBA’s 50th season. ‘I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world to be living in this community and to be part of a group that made this field possible,’ Simon said afterwards. ‘My son is on the Bronco Dodgers and he got up at 6 a.m., put his uniform on and was so excited. We live right around the corner, so this whole experience hits very close to home for us.’ Catching the first balls were three of legendary Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully’s 12 grandchildren: 12-year-old Matthew (a ‘retired’ PPBA player), 10-year-old Chad (a Mustang Brave) and 6-year-old Neal (who starts five-pitch in April). Vin and his wife Sandy were the largest donors to the ‘Field of Dreams.’ 2. Swimmer Trifecta Palisades High won its third consecutive City Section boys swim team title in May and the girls finished second in their pursuit of a fourth straight title. Led by coaches Maggie Nance and Adam Blakis, Pali kept its dynasty intact and earned the Dolphins’ 114th team title’more than any school in the City Section. Randy Lee won the 100 Breastroke in 59.22’one second off the City record’while Cara Davidoff won both the 200 Freestyle and 100 Butterfly and anchored the Dolphin girls’ victorious 200 Freestyle Relay. 3. Skatepark Opens A festive atmosphere surrounded opening ceremonies for a portable skatepark on the resurfaced outdoor basketball courts at Palisades Recreation Center in February, the culmination of a four-year volunteer effort spearheaded by Huntington Palisades resident Susan Nash. The event began with brief speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Then the fun began, as dozens of local skaters and rollerbladers, clad in helmets and pads, took to the ramps and listened to live music. 4. Post Cup Awards Standing out from their peers at Palisades High this year were Geoff Schwartz and Cara Davidoff, who won Post Cup Awards as outstanding senior athletes at Palisades High. Schwartz was a lineman on the varsity football team and the ace pitcher of the varsity baseball team. Davidoff, meanwhile, swam the 100 Butterfly in 58.71’just 44 hundreths of a second off the Section record’anchored two winning relays at the City finals. Schwartz now plays football at Oregon University while Davidoff swims for Tulane. 5. Repeat at Riviera Mike Weir nearly squandered a seven-stroke lead, but held off Shigecki Maruyama on the final hole to win his second consecutive Nissan Open golf championship in February at Riviera Country Club. Weir posted the lowest score at Riviera in 14 years and became the tournament’s first repeat champion since Corey Pavin in 1995. At 17-under par, Weir won by one stroke over Maruyama and by three over Stuart Appleby. Afternoon showers didn’t keep 30,925 spectators from lining the galleries in trench coats and umbrellas to watch Sunday’s final-round. 6. Locals Win 5/10Ks Three of the four winners of the Will Rogers’ Fourth of July 5 & 10Ks were Palisadians and two of them were repeat winners. Peter Gilmore once again dominated his hometown race, winning the 5K for the seventh time in 10 years in 14:12. Three days before her 26th birthday, Kara Barnard won her third 10K in 35:24’the fourth fastest time in race history. Palisadian Brad Becken won the men’s 10K for the first time in six tries, finishing in 32:51 to hold off last year’s co-winners Nate Bowen and Tyson Sacco. 7. Baseball Wins League Normally programs go through a transition period when a longtime coach is replaced but that was not the case for the Palisades High varsity baseball team in 2004. When 18-year coach Russ Howard stepped down to take an administrative position, assistants Kelly Loftus and Tom Seyler stepped in and the Dolphins earned their first trip to the upper playoffs since 1998. Pali was two outs away from becoming the first team in school history to finish undefeated in league play. 8. Lacrosse Club Forms One of the fastest growing youth sports across the nation landed in the Palisades this spring, as a junior-varsity club team was organized and enjoyed a winning inaugural season. Managed by Andrea Dyke and Lori Mendez-Packer and coached by Jeff Hirshberg and Scott Hylen, Palisades finished second in its league with a 9-2-1 record, the highlight being a 20-1 win over Manual Arts. The Palisades Lacrosse Club opens training camp for it’s second season on February 1. Over 30 boys have signed up for the coming season and the club will field a varsity level club team and either a varsity ‘B’ team or a JV team in 2005. 9. PPBA’s World Series Three different organizations won Palisades Pony Baseball Association championships in June as all three World Series came down to winner-take-all third games. In the Mustang Division, the Tigers advanced through the loser’s bracket to reach the finals against the Braves. The Tigers finished with the best regular season record and won two straight games to win the championship. A similar scenario unfolded in the Bronco Division, where the favored Indians rallied for back-to-back victories over the Red Sox to win the Series. In the Pinto Division, the Red Sox beat the Tigers in the deciding game. The Red Sox finished last in the American League, but advanced through the winners bracket of the playoffs. 10. Gym Closes, Reopens The wood floor at the Palisades Recreation Center’s new gym was warped beyond repair in January when a basketball struck and ruptured a pressure gauge, causing water to gush out and flood the facility. For the first time since it first opened in 2000, the gym was closed infefinitely. Upon relocating to the Palisades from Barrington Park in June, new Rec Center Director David Gadelha’s first priority was to oversee a 90-day renovation project that began in July. The gym reopened October 17, two days ahead of schedule.
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