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Dixie Youth starts with big jamboree

Play ball!

The Lincoln County Youth Sports Dixie Youth Baseball League cranksup Saturday with a daylong jamboree at Keystone Park. For the nextthree months, youngsters of all ages and sizes will bat, field andthrow baseballs.

All three Keystone fields are anointed with sponsorships. The frontfield or K1 is Bank of Brookhaven. The K2 middle field is Bank ofFranklin and the new K3 is Check Exchange.

According to LCYS commissioner Weldon Smith, the sponsorships aremuch appreciated in these tough economic times. Of course,President Obama says we are all prospering and the economy is on anupward climb. Go figure.

“It has been a blessing in disguise,” said Smith. “When we sold thefield names. It enabled us to build a new fence around the frontfield.”

“All the members of the board deeply appreciate the sponsorships,”Smith continued. “We just couldn’t do without them.”

Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. The 11-12s start at 10 a.m. Thegames, under a jamboree format, feature one-hour time limits.

Plans are to play seven games at the back field. And six games eachat the middle and front fields.

Over 400 youngsters are expected to keep the concession standsbusy. Siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles willconverge on the complex.

In age 7-8, there will be 14 teams. The 9-10s feature 12 teams andthere are 11 teams at the 11-12 age level.

That’s a great increase in the AA and Majors. Smith said, “We weredown to seven teams about three years ago.”

If you are keeping score, there are approximately 120 players inthe Majors; 130 in 9-10s or Triple-A and 150 in Double-A.

Games are played Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.Obviously, that’s a lot of action for umpires, too.

“We are looking for umpires,” said Smith. “We are looking forumpires daily.”

It’s a great opportunity for teenagers with a strong baseballbackground who are willing to work.

Umpires in the youngest league earn $15 per game. The older leagueumps are $20 and $25 per game. Plate umpires earn the extra $5bucks and you better believe they earn it. Some rabid fans questionthe umps’ ancestry and their vision on every pitch and call.

“We are looking for an exciting year,” said Smith. “We have a bunchof volunteers and coaches who have worked hard to improve ourfacilities. You have to have parents involved.”

There is an official scorekeeper at each field. If the umpire has aproblem, he confers with the scorekeeper. Obviously, thescorekeepers earn their keep, too.

Smith said this year the parents are back in the concession stands,taking turns in a rotation to provide the folks with food anddrink. Cleanup is important.

“Part of our major expense each year is trash pickup,” said Smith.”If you see a piece of trash on the ground, please pick it up andput it in the garbage can.”

The Keystone Park property is owned by the county. Smith said, “Weare not a private organization. We welcome every one.”

The Dixie Boys Baseball League, age 13-14, begins play May 5 atExchange Club Park. Because of interest growth, there will be from8-10 teams in the Dixie Boys League from the area.

Presidents of each league are: 13-14s, Paul Jackson and TerryBritt; 11-12s, Marty Davis and Beck Warren; 9-10s, Stan Winborneand Ron Lambert; 7-8s, Winky Brown and Darrell Morse

Sadly, the leagues have to cope with vandalism on the concessionstands on a weekly basis. Besides Keystone, the league uses the twofields located in Exchange Club Park. All three locations could usean 8-foot wire fence with razor wire woven across the top. AtExchange Club, vandals cut holes in the chain-link fence to gainaccess and burglarize the concession stands. Restrooms aren’timmune either as porcelain sinks and toilets are broken topieces.

Last summer Smith said vandals devastated the facilities. “We had aconcession stand at the back field (Keystone) in a little portablebuilding. The walls were kicked in. All the doors on the concessionstand were kicked in.”

At the Dixie Boys League in Exchange Club Park, the vandals knockholes in the contrete block walls to gain access. Last summer, theconcession stand was broken into seven times.

“One time they loaded a barbeque grill, popcorn machine anddrinks,” Smith recalled. “They busted out brick to get in. Theyneeded a pickup truck,” to haul off the booty.

It’s a tragic fact that an increasing number of thugs and vandalsare prowling the Homeseekers Paradise in search of easy money. Bycontrast, other folks continue working hard to make Brookhaven abetter place to live.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com