BRD plans meeting for Lott program

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The A.L. Lott Baseball machine is kicking into gear, andorganizers say it’s time to start lining up coaches, officials, andplayers.

Those interested in discussing the new season are invited to theBrookhaven Recreation Department on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. todiscuss ideas and concerns with A.L. Lott baseball organizers.

“We want to invite the community, parents, and friends of A.L.Lott baseball,” said Recreation Department Director Terry Reid.”And we want people to spread the word. Tell anyone who’sinterested and might not already know about the meeting.”

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Reid said those attending the meeting, which is for parents andnot yet for players, would be treated to a dinner of homemade gumboand blackberry cobbler.

In the past, the A.L. Lott program has met with disinterest fromthe community. Therefore, Reid said the recreation department issearching for changes to make and other possibilities forrecruiting.

National statistics show baseball is dying out as a pastime intraditionally black communities, who are finding more interest inbasketball and football. Reid said he believes that to be part ofthe problem in Brookhaven.

One change the league is happy to announce is that twocommissioners have been named for the league. Kenneth Smith andRandy Belcher, two local volunteers, will serve in that capacityand will help bring concerns to the recreation department.

“They’ll run the draft and handle on-field disputes andquestions,” he said. “The commissioners will serve as liaisonsbetween the recreation department and the coaches.”

Reid also said that in his researching how other communitieskeep their recreational baseball leagues alive and competitive, hehas found no other cities that still have a recreationdepartment-sponsored baseball league.

“All of them have consolidated, sanctioned leagues like DizzyDean or Dixie Youth,” he said. “I can’t find anywhere in the statethat still has a program like this.”

He said with A.L. Lott baseball’s low cost and scholarshipoptions against the high cost of sanctioned leagues, it’s fair tosay the league is a privilege for the children of Brookhaven. Thechallenge now is to get them involved.

“Last year we had 26 children sign up, and not enough in any agegroup to make a team,” he said.

The season starts up in April and runs for 10 weeks. Reid saidthe final day for signup is March 16, and that registration hasalready begun.

“We’re looking forward to receiving input from the community,and we’d like to see as many people as possible turn out for themeeting,” he said. “I’d really like to see this be the year A.L.Lott baseball takes off again.”