Jackson Maxey tips his cap after being introduced to the crowd gathered at the SportsPlex on Saturday morning for the opening-day ceremony of the Laurel-Jones Dixie Youth Baseball season. Hundreds of players on teams in the 5-6-year-olds’ age division to the 11-12-year-olds’ division were introduced as hundreds of people gathered around for the festivities and to cheer them on before the first games were played. (Photos by Mark Thornton)

McDaniel shifts left

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Senate candidate Chris McDaniel throws out the first pitch.

Sen. Chris McDaniel doesn’t want to make deals with politicians in Washington. But before he threw out the first pitch, he did make a deal with hundreds of people gathered at the SportsPlex for the opening-day ceremony of the Laurel-Jones Dixie Youth Baseball season.

“I haven’t thrown a pitch in years,” said McDaniel, donning the jersey of Ernie Banks from his beloved Chicago Cubs. “If this goes horribly wrong, don’t share it on Facebook, OK?”

McDaniel didn’t have to worry, though. The ball made it over the plate, a little high and to the left, which was uncharacteristic for the conservative state lawmaker from Ellisville who is running in the special election to finish the seventh term of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who is resigning April 1.

But there was no talk of politics on this day, which marks the beginning of the season for young baseball players ages 5 through 12.

“Coaches, thank you for everything you do,” McDaniel said before throwing out the first pitch, his younger son Chamberlain by his side and his older son Cambridge in uniform, ready to play ball. “One day, we’re going to wake up, and there will be no more first pitches, opening days … every moment matters.”

Hunter Eaks was the catcher who handled the high pitch and LJDYB President Frank Dykes introduced McDaniel after Sheriff Alex Hodge said the opening prayer.

“Representing you in the Senate has been the honor of my life,” McDaniel said, “even if you don’t like me.”