There was a time when only the sunset and snow could keep kids off of a baseball diamond. A time before corporately sponsored little leagues and $200 mitts that were lost or outgrown before they were worn out. When kids taught themselves how to pitch, hit and field, and how to follow the rules and umpire themselves.
That's a time the Town of Elbridge Recreation Department is trying to resurrect.
The Jordan-Elbridge Fall Youth Baseball program for ages 8 to 12 began Sunday Aug. 16 at Seymour Lofft Park and will run beginning at 12 p.m. Sundays as long as weather permits.
Recreation Director Joe Patrick said the first half of each session is dedicated to skills and drills in small groups led by volunteer coaches. Patrick said volunteers Bill Ashby and Mike Osborn spearheaded the program and developed drills that would keep all of the kids active and engaged. Afterward, the kids play ball.
"We're hoping to have kids pick the teams up, and have parents to umpire and keep an eye one safety," Patrick said. "The idea is to have pick-up open play. It just doesn't happen anymore, so we're trying to develop that."
Patrick said this around 150 kids participated in this summer's little league program.
"There is definitely interest," he said. "Hopefully the parents will buy into it and see its not about the competition."
He said the hope is to create a passion for playing baseball through the pick-up style playing.
"We'll get to the nitty gritty after," Patrick said. There will be plenty of time to focus on strategy at the JV and Varsity levels.
A good template
The new program is in part based on the success of the town's soccer program which implemented rotating teams this year for the fourth grade players. When they showed up on S..day to scrimmage, teams were randomly selected, rather than keeping the same rosters throughout the program.
Patrick said the system was a hit, taking the program to the next level and helping young athletes work on soccer and basic teamwork skills without the hard-core focus on competition.
Interested players can sign up for the Sunday youth baseball program at Seymour Lofft Park, no registration is necessary and the program is free.
Register for fall soccer
Registration forms for the J-E Fall Soccer program is now available online at townofelbridge.com.
Play begins in September, so register now. Call 399-0740 with questions.