4-H baseball season begins in Baldwin

LAKE COUNTY — The beautiful weather of recent days has reminded everyone that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are almost here — and the time is about right for heading out to the old ball game.

In Baldwin, the Michigan State University Extension team is in the process of organizing this year’s baseball and softball teams, and are asking all local boys and girls ages five through 15 to sign up.

Under the auspices of 4-H, teams have been playing in Baldwin for almost the last 25 years. Any local child in good health is invited to get involved with what promises to be an exciting season of fun-filled competition. Registrations forms are available at the elementary school as well as at the MSU Extensions office. The fees are $10 for Co-Ed T-Ball (ages 5 and 6) and Co-Ed Coach Pitch (ages 7, 8 and 9), and $20 for Little League Boys’ Baseball, Girls’ Softball (ages 10, 11 and 12), and Pony League Boys’ Baseball and Girls’ Softball (ages 13, 14 and 15).

MSU staff member and team organizer Seth Hopkins is looking forward to an action-packed series of great games. “This is always a popular program,” he says. “If we are successful in recruiting a lot of kids this spring, we may expand it and have a Travel League to play against teams from Irons, Bitely, and Idlewild.”

Hopkins assures all children that they need not be particularly athletic to get involved. “That’s what we’re here for — to train kids. Our aim is to increase their health and general fitness and improve their skills. It’s terrific to watch kids who never played before hit the ball for the first time! Seeing their success is a wonderful reward.” He adds that children derive many other benefits as well from participating in athletics. “They learn teamwork, and develop a sense of good sportsmanship,” he notes. “These are all valuable lifetime skills and we teach them in a nurturing

environment.”

Hopkins reports that he himself was not much of a baseball fan in his youth. “I had a rural childhood,” he remembers, “I never had the opportunity to play street games, for example. I don’t have a huge collection of baseball cards or a favorite professional player. But once I got started working with these local teams, I discovered that I really enjoyed it.”

The “great American pastime” is always a pleasurable activity for the entire community, but the baseball/softball programs can only succeed if the community becomes actively involved. “We need the support of the public to have this happen,” Hopkins notes. “We are asking for parents and other interested adults to pitch in and become coaches or assistants or scorekeepers or simply to help out with transportation.”

Local businesses are also invited to become team sponsors.

The MSU organizers would like to see a lot of people turn out just to watch the games, which are usually held either at Hollister Field or at the High School.

Usually participation in the teams requires attendance at practice two days a week. The season is expected to run from April through June. Every kid who signs up will be issued a shirt and a hat; balls and balls and uniforms are provided.

As usual, the teams will also construct a float for the Troutarama Parade.

For more information, call the MSU Extensions 4-H Office at 745-2732.