Baseball coming back to east Selma

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

Barrett Welch

The Selma Times-Journal

Baseball at the Sportsplex is over, but kids of summer still have an opportunity to play organized baseball.

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Robert Crum Jr., president of the Take Back Selma Coalition, plans to launch a neighborhood baseball league on July 7 at Ernest L Bennett Park in east Selma.

“My vision was just to bring something back for the kids to do when the Selma regular season ends this week,” said Crum. “The kids will have nothing else to do, so we’re just trying to have something for the community.”

Crum played little league baseball in east Selma in his younger days. Early life experience and the quickness of the recreational league season forced him to take action.

“I knew that the kids needed to have something else to do,” said Crum. “Just growing up here in east Selma, I felt like I had to have something else for the kids to do.”

He worked with his former little league coach, Terry Jackson, to create the new league. The original model was designed for 10 teams. An overflow of interest forced change. Enough people have registered to form 12 teams.

“Before I even did the registration commercial, I had people stop me on the street asking for the registration form,” said Crum. “The parents want the kids to have something to do. The kids want to have something to do.”

Though geared toward the less fortunate, all kids age 7 to 18 are welcome to participate. Crum promised free participation and attendance.

With opening day approaching, the field requires several repairs. The right field fence is still missing metal pieces. Other parts of the fence also require repair.

Crum will get some help. Members of the Selma City Council promised individually to help with the efforts after Crum appealed to them.

Councilwoman Jannie Venter and Councilman Cecil Williamson promised to help repair the fence with money from their individual ward’s coffers. Council President George Evans said he’d pay for balls and bats. Councilwoman Dr. Geraldine Allen said she’d pitch into the mix for equipment.

After all, they said, it’s for the kids.

“We want to have a program where the kids come and work out here, and then they won’t tear up the stuff,” said Crum. “We’re just trying to instill hard work in the kids and an appreciation for something they earned instead of just receiving it.”

Since the Sportsplex opened, games once played in east Selma were relocated. Though years have passed since then, Jackson still feels a bond between east Selma and organized baseball.

“This is where I grew up. This is where I started,” said Jackson. “Every day I ride through east Selma, somebody stops me and asks me why we can’t have a league in east Selma.”

Conditions may not be perfect when opening day arrives. That has not dampened the buzz created by the league or the return of baseball to east Selma.

“It’s not at its full potential because it’s just starting, but it lets the kids know that we still we are here for them and care about them,” said Crum.