Youth league is twice as nice, with O's help

April 22, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

While 30 fourth- and fifth-graders in baseball uniforms eagerly awaited their turn in the batting cage at the All-Star Preview Center at Camden Yards, the Orioles yesterday announced their continued support of the Baltimore Baseball League.

The league has doubled in size since last year's inaugural season. This year, there are more than 960 children participating 48 elementary school teams.

"Expansion in the major leagues or at any level only happens when something is healthy and successful," Orioles president Larry Lucchino said. "We're glad to be a part of it."

The Orioles, along with Major League Baseball, the Abell Foundation, the Junior League of Baltimore, the city Department of Education, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Parks & People Foundation and new sponsor, Ronald McDonald's Children's Charities, are all lending support this year.

The Baltimore Baseball League estimates its costs this year at $135,000, which includes uniforms, coaches, umpires, site directors, transportation and two part-time employees to supervise the program.

In addition to promoting the game, the Baltimore Baseball League also stresses the importance of education and staying in school. All participants must maintain a 90 percent attendance record, display good citizenship and show a consistent scholastic effort to remain eligible.

But yesterday, the children from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, dressed in their red or yellow jerseys, were taking some time after school to work on their batting and pitching at the preview center before hitting the books.

"I couldn't hit that well last year, but I'm hitting better this year," said fifth-grader Donyea Little, who plays first base for one of the school's two teams.

Khordre Tyler found out about the league from Little, who has been his classmate since the third grade. In his first year of play, he had three RBI in his first game against Park Heights Elementary.

"We are very pleased to participate in the Baltimore Baseball League," said Len Coleman, Major League Baseball director of marketing and development. "We look at this as a beacon and an example for something we would like to see across the country."

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