To the editor:
I don't know to whom I should turn for a problem I have. Maybe the right people will read this and try to right a wrong, if it is wrong.
I have been an assistant coach in little league baseball, football and soccer. I am 66 years old and enjoyed that for about eight years.
The problem now is the great difficulty that has arisen in Houk-Ice and Holcom baseball. I think it is next to impossible to recruit enough sponsors for all the necessary teams. The coaches must pay a $5 fee to be a voluntary coach. Each player is supposed to pay a $50 fee. Some kids have a hard time raising that fee. Sponsors pay around $1,000. All of those fees go for balls, bats, hats, batting helmets and uniforms as well as hiring umpires. I'm afraid some kids between 12 and 17 years of age may not get to play this summer.
There were four fields built at the Holcom complex for little league ball. Adult softball, as well as having many fields over Lawrence, have taken over one field and another part-time. One field is reserved for Legion ball. That leaves 15 or 16 teams one field and another part-time field to play on.
We have had teams with up to 14 players. It is very difficult to be sure your team has a chance to win and yet let each player have a turn at bat in seven innings of play. Ideal team size would be 12.
What my problem is is that I cannot see why it is more important to cater to adults and neglect the youth of Lawrence and Douglas County. Why can't the county and city commissions allocate a few thousand dollars to youth out of the millions budgeted for adult interests? Is it better to spend $75 million or $90 million for "bypasses," untold millions for rebuilding a downtown we are trying to bypass or to invest in youth.
I have worked with eight different baseball teams and observed about a hundred teams. I found not one rotten kid. Kill those baseball teams and you might get gangs roaming the streets. Would you rather see about 200 teen-agers playing baseball or belonging to street gangs?
The coaches I've worked with and I have bought a glove for a kid who couldn't afford it. We have taken them for treats at Dairy Queen. We have paid for the whole team to go to the batting cages. We didn't do it for thanks; we did it because we loved the boys and girls we coached. Can't the city and county love them just a little also?
Rt. 1, Box 216AA.