Baseball alive and well

I have always enjoyed Kalle Oakes' writing but never took time to respond, until now. This is in response to his column of July 11, "Baseball's dying. Who's got the will?"

A high school athlete's summer is very different than it was just 10 to 15 years ago. Oakes does make some valid points about the direction baseball is going, but I would like to share some positive things that are happening.

Last year, Lewiston joined a Junior Legion League that consisted of kids from the ages of 14-17. The league did not exist five years ago. Today, there are 19 teams, with 15-18 kids per team. During the past two years, Lewiston has been very successful, finishing in first place last year with a 16-2 record and, this year, the team is 13-1 with four games left.

Also, there was a combined tryout for Gayton Legion and the Junior Legion teams. We had 40 kids, but unfortunately had to cut some. The New Auburn Legion situation has an underlying story to it. There are kids from Auburn playing on three different teams.

There are many more options today to play baseball than at any time that I can recall. School, summer and fall leagues are very competitive.

Terry Ricker, Lewiston

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Comments

Scott Pare's picture

Baseball alive and well - for a select few

Terry, I would argue that baseball is alive and well if you are one of the all-stars on your team. I would bet that most of these teams you are talking about are made up of mostly the same kids. Legion I believe was started by invitation only - hand picked kids by the group of coaches. And the All-Star games from little league take precedence over regular league games. Anyone who has had any experience with little league the past few years knows the kids names I am talking about. Kids have left little league baseball out of frustration, tired of sitting on the bench while the coaches kid plays shortstop, pitches and bats first. They go on to other sports where they can actually get playing time. My experience with my son was at Elliot, where winning is everything. I don't think I will ever forget watching one kid (not my son) come and play every year, even though he sat the bench for half the game, played outfield when he got to play, and was put in the batting order as little as possible. This happened every game! This kid was not very good from the beginning, but how was he ever going to get better? He got half the playing time, got as little contact with the ball as possible, and batted about half the time as anyone else. This happened to a lot of kids to a much lesser extent, but was still frustrating. One time during a playoff game, our coach (you know him) moved this kid from one side of the outfield to the other because the other team had been hitting the ball to this kid. The coach made no real secret of the fact that he was trying to get this kid out of the action. I'll put in the politically correct statement here that I am not talking about ALL the coaches in little league, BUT it is a widespread problem. A kid who wants to casually play baseball has no real chance.

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