Too many players not given shots

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 4, 2008

Sitting in the press box of Riverwalk Stadium watching the Montgomery Biscuits play Thursday night made me think about possibilities.

It made me wonder if any of those professionals had half the natural talent I see on a regular basis here in the Black Belt.

This area is blessed with people who have the ability to achieve great things in sports.

Email newsletter signup

Unfortunately, not many of them think about having a future in baseball. Not many other people think they do, either.

That may be because they don&8217;t have much of a beginning in the game.

The summer baseball and softball programs in this city are unique thing.

The only thing the families of youth players here have to foot the bill for are pants and socks. The city also covers whatever costs the families&8217; insurance don&8217;t.

Too good to be true, right?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of families that may eventually force the city to pare down such a sweet system. It would be one thing if people were taking advantage. Instead, they&8217;re taking for granted.

Player participation is far from optimal. Coaches can pretty much play eeny, meeny, miney, moe when guessing which players will show up for practices. And the coaching itself is another issue.

A recent clinic provided the city&8217;s 100-plus volunteer coaches an opportunity to learn how to teach the game to young players. This would have been an especially useful tool for fastpitch softball coaches, considering the sport&8217;s desperately slow growth in this area.

Eight coaches showed up. Ocho. Not enough to justify dragging out a bucket of balls.

I&8217;ll be the first to step up to the plate on this one. I&8217;ll tell you a local newspaper can always do a better job of promoting youth sports.

But we can&8217;t drive players to the park. We can&8217;t tell people to stop complaining because they don&8217;t want their child playing on such and such team.

All we can do is make people aware of the fact that potentially great ball players are being cheated out of their chance.

George L. Jones is the Times-Journal sports

editor and may be reached at 334-410-1744 or