By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Some of the July traditions in Millington are hot days, fireworks, the smell of barbecue and Astro Mites Baseball in Millington Arts and Recreation.
Another longtime association with the Astro Mites has been the Hale family. The leader of the 2016 edition of the Astro Mites is Head Coach Louie Hale.
In all his years affiliated with the program as a player and coach, Hale witnessed a rare feat June 23 on Biloxi Field. Against the Tar Heels, Astro Mite Francisco “Franky” Anguiano crushed a pitch that flew over the fence 285 feet away for a home run.
“I’ve never seen it in this age group on this field,” Hale said. “When they played at the old Miles Park, I’ve seen a kid do it. It has been a while.”
Some of the spectators didn’t realize Anguiano hit a homer. It took a moment for the 14-year-old responsible for the hit to come to the realization he achieve the feat.
“I was surprised and shocked,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘What?’”
The Millington Middle School graduate rounded the bases and a group of Astro Mites awaited him at home plate with a new nickname to replace Franky.
“They started calling me ‘290,’” he said.
Instantly Anguiano’s mom Cynthia became the most popular parent in the stands.
“First I thought it was just going to hit the fence,” she acknowledged. “He has hit the fence before, but not over the fence. We were like, ‘It’s going. It’s going. It’s gone.’ We were screaming and yelling. I might have been the loudest one.
“Everybody, the team and the parents went crazy,” Cynthia added. “The were screaming just as loud as me. Even parents from the other team came and congratulated me. People who were coming for the next game, ‘Oh, we heard your kid hit the home run.’”
Since the homer, Franky has celebrated with his mom, dad Francisco and younger brothers Luis and Fernando. The future Millington Central High School freshman has been the talk of the town. Anguiano was happy to add to the Astro Mite legacy in Flag City.
He was presented with the home run ball by Coach Hale. The feat took place during the season dedicated to the late Brian Hale.
Louie’s brother passed away last summer after battling cancer. Both Louie and Brian played in the recreation league for their father, the late Walter Hale. Most of the Hale brothers and their sons have sported a Millington Arts and Recreation uniform — Astro Mites primarily.
On the right sleeve of this year’s Astro Mite jersey are three words, “Coach Brian Hale.” Anguiano said he remembers Coach Brian working with them last season and he enjoyed being around him.
Cynthia said the Astro Mites have been a blessing to her son and family. She noted you can tell the importance of tradition and family to Coach Louie.
Mr. 290 said he is glad to honor his late Coach Brian and add a special memory to the season dedicated to his memory.
“We’re proud to continue the legacy,” Franky concluded. “We want it to stay strong.”