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LOCAL BASEBALL AT A CROSSROADS

By Bob Bridge, Columnist



“The other sports are just sports. Baseball is a love.”


- Bryant Gumbel



Baseball is love


When I first accepted the job as sports editor at the Bedford Times-Mail in 1979 I was asked repeatedly to identify my favorite sport. I would smile, shrug my shoulders, and say, “I like them all.”


Truth be told, baseball always has been my preferred pastime. From Pee-Wee League to last week’s Fantasy League Draft I’ve been completely consumed with anything and everything transpiring on a ball diamond.


To me, baseball is America’s Game, our nation’s most passionate pastime. Goosebumps appear on my flesh each spring when players stream to Arizona and Florida to prepare for Opening Day.


As I explained to a former hoop coach, baseball is to basketball what chess is to checkers.


It’s cerebral, complicated and complex to folks who have only a guy modest knowledge of the rules and to the rich and storied history of the game. It’s far more than simply swinging a stick at a ball.


I was not a great hitter nor a gifted athlete. Defense was my forte. I was an infielder with a strong arm, a trusty glove and the intellect to place myself in the proper defensive position.


In college I served as an assistant on a semi-pro team and learned many of the nuances and fine points of the game. Those lessons proved valuable.


A few years later I was named Writer of the Year by the Indiana HS Baseball Coaches Association. Baseball always has been close to my heart.


In the 80s I organized and managed an adult baseball league in Bedford. Each Sunday several teams squared off at Wilson Park. Players ranged in age from teens to 50.


Competition was intense and there was seldom a dull moment as I kept track of the action from my perch in the press box.


In 1990 I followed the BNL Stars to the Final Four in Indianapolis. Baseball in Lawrence County was taking a back seat to no one.


But the days of large crowds at Wilson, Wiley and Murray diamonds have dwindled sharply in recent seasons.


People complain the game is just too darned time-consuming. Sadly, the game’s popularity has suffered dramatically.


The game is at a critical crossroads as the summer of 2024 approaches. Without greater participation the younger leagues will expire. And, without the presence of young players there is little hope of outstanding athletes and stellar teams in the near future.


Each community determines its own priorities and preferences. That’s only fair.


But, realize the decisions and determinations you make today are certain to impact the years to come.


To paraphrase an old SNL comic, “Baseball has been very, very good to me.”


Give it a try. It’s well worth the time and effort.



Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or bbbbbridge@gmail.com.

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It’s that way in several sports. A young distance runner in southern Indiana ( except Columbus) would either have to read about the sport on his own and become inspired or have a father who knows how great the sport is and instills in the kid the history and the greatness of being a distance runner.

They don’t find out until they leave home how great a sport the distances and cross country are unless they start hanging out with young athletes from different parts of the country who were lucky enough to have had mentors and coaches that actually ran and loved the sport.

It’s not just baseball.


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Sad to hear. Hope the game I truly love and have since I can remember will make a turn for the better. When people say it’s just to time consuming? I believe they need to take the time to learn the game more as you and I have! Just the greatest game ever. Hope people like yourself can get the grand game back on track in the hometown.

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