“The league is alive and well in Sparks,” said Ed Thompson, the president of Sparks Babe Ruth baseball. “I just want all of Sparks to know that we are still here.”
SBRB breaks into two different divisions — for youths 13 to 14 years of age and the other for kids 15 to 16 years of age.
“Babe Ruth evolved,” said Thompson. “Traditionally, you play baseball in Little League until you’re 12. Then you move on to Babe Ruth. We added the older age group this year.
“A lot of 16-year-olds don’t make a high school team. Here, they do play. Every child is placed on a team. Every child plays. High school ball can be limiting. They don’t accept everyone. We accept players of all talent levels. We help prepare the younger kids for high school. We give them the confidence and knowledge.”
Registration for SBRB is now open and is $150 per child. The league offers discounts for early January and February registration and siblings. The league provides hats, shirts, belts and socks for each player. The players must provide their own playing equipment. SBRB also offers scholarships to children that qualify.
“We handed out 12 scholarships last year; 10 full scholarships and two partial,” said Thompson. “All you need to do is come up to one of the board members and ask for that help. We’re not here to embarrass you. Every kid who wants to play can play regardless of financial reasons.”
After the registration period ends, the players will try out in front of coaches and managers. Then, the coaches and the managers will come together to rate each player and draft their team. Drafting this way, according to Thompson, is fair.
“Some other baseball organizations have preselected players for the teams with little or no drafting of players to teams,” said Thompson.
Practices start in March and games continue through the second week of June. After the season is completed, three all-star teams are selected to play in local and regional tournaments. The organization’s teams play at Golden Eagle Regional Park.
The teams play by traditional SBRB rules. There is a head scorekeeper that monitors each player’s playing time, ensuring that each child receives an equal amount of playing time out on the field.
“Parents can be pretty adamant about their kid’s playing time,” said Thompson.
SBRB is not just for boys; girls are welcome and encouraged to try out.
“There was a young lady who tried out last year. Unfortunately, she broke her arm skateboarding and couldn’t play,” said Thompson.
This is Thompson’s third year with SBRB. He coached his sons throughout their young baseball playing years, including the time they played for the Babe Ruth league.
“We have a lot of fun. Our team is named after the Boston Red Sox,” said Thompson.
During its season, SBRB hosts a 50/50 fundraising raffle.
“Last year, a woman won about $900 from the raffle and ended up giving it back to the team,” said Thompson.
Thompson encourages Sparks parents to sign up their kids — not just for the benefit of playing baseball, but for learning values like teamwork, respect, discipline and leadership among other young adults.
“Babe Ruth is an avenue to keep our youth off the streets. Kids on the team are part of a community organization, learning about this great American pastime,” said Thompson. “The best part is seeing kids progress. I have parents come up to me and say that their kid learned something. That’s what we are the most proud of.”
For more information, visit www.SparksBabeRuth.com.