Could we bring Little League back to Fairfield
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
WATERWORKS PARK is a very nice complex these days. It has ballfields for just about every level of play, from T-ball through high school. It even has tennis and basketball courts.
As I recall, none of that, nor a few other amenities, were there when I first saw the facility sometime around 1960. My neighborhood friend Roger played on a West Side Little League team in Hamilton, and I believe his team had a city tournament game in Fairfield.
I decided to lend my support, so I accompanied Roger and his family to the game. My memory of our arrival is seeing one solitary field that almost appeared to be carved out of a cornfield. Humble beginnings for what would become a showcase for Little League and other levels of baseball.
There's still plenty of baseball played on those fields of dreams, but they took the Little League out of it. They've got Cal Ripken, AABC and some select teams playing on the fields, but no Little League.
It is my understanding that Fairfield's failure to play under Little League rules is one reason why its teams no longer participate in a tournament that used to involved both communities.
There is still a strong Hamilton-Fairfield rivalry in most prep sports. It is particularly strong - in a positive way - in baseball and softball.
Still, I have to say that I miss Fairfield's participation in the city tournament. Teams played out their schedules during the regular season, so everybody knew who the better teams were when tournament time rolled around.
Even the undefeated teams, however, looked ahead to the tournament with great anticipation. They wondered how they would stack up against some of the best from other leagues if they were lucky enough to make it that far. Like all tournaments, there were upsets. Stories of such upsets helped fuel the dreams of many teams who entered the tourney with less-than-stellar records.
One of the coaches from those days would like to see a return to Little League and city tournamentplay. Kenny Bates, who once took Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping to the city championship game, currently coaches an FYBA coach-pitch team. The 8-year-olds from that level will be moving up next year, and Bates hopes they will get to play under Little League rules.
Among other things, he said, that would mean shorter bases and no leadoffs by runners. Bates feels pitchers spend too much time worrying about runners anyway. He also feels Little League games will be shorter.
Bates said he has received some positive feedback concerning the switch and hopes to bring it up at a future meeting.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.
Contact Mike Smith at (513) 829-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org