Optimists seek to raise $80,000 for Little League Park yard sale canceled

club plans to reschedule event for next month

April 08, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

One consequence of Carroll County's rapid population growth is an increasing number of children signing up to play Little League baseball, which is why Westminster Optimist Club is trying to raise $80,000 for its baseball program this year, up from $65,000 last year.

The club planned to sponsor a "Biggest Yard Sale Ever" Sunday at Westminster city playground, but had to cancel late last week because organizers hadn't cleared the event with city government.

Westminster's policy bars yard sales from city parks because the parks would be overwhelmed, said Thomas B. Beyard, city director of planning and public works. "Should parks be available for people to use or tied up with a yard sale, even if it's for a worthy cause?" Mr. Beyard asked.

Optimist club member John Paris, charged with fund raising for the program, said he will try to reschedule the sale for next month at another location. He hopes to raise $3,000 from the sale.

Mr. Paris' family illustrates the trend in Little League enrollment. He became involved in the program because his son was of Little League age when the family moved to Carroll two years ago. He coaches a team and quickly became a fund-raiser. Professionally, he raises money for the American Kidney Fund as its regional project manager.

Westminster's population grew by 14.4 percent between 1990 and 1994 and is expected to increase through the 1990s. Five hundred fifty children signed up this year to play baseball, an 18 percent increase from last year's enrollment.

"That trend's going to continue," Mr. Paris said. The club saw an increase in the number of 7- and 8-year-olds enrolled on instructional teams, from 120 last year to 168 this year, which will mean more youngsters moving through the program.

The cost of running the program increases as enrollment rises, Mr. Paris said. He said most of this year's $80,000 budget will go to uniforms and equipment, with additional costs to restore fields damaged by winter weather. Umpires are paid for each game and end-of-season tournaments cost an additional $2,500.

The Optimists spend about $26,000 a year for equipment, $6,500 for baseballs alone. This year, the club bought each of the 46 teams a batter's helmet with protective features similar to a football helmet, to reduce the risk of injury if a child is hit in the face by an errant pitch. Mr. Paris said safety considerations made it important to add them to the teams' equipment. Uniforms cost about $30 each and are replaced on a rotating basis.

In addition to income the club hopes to earn from the sale, other revenue sources are: a $40 per-child registration fee; a corporate sponsor charge of $375 per team; a golf tournament to raise about $10,000; the raffle of a Cal Ripken autographed baseball jersey, estimated at $15,000; concession stand income of about $8,000 a year; and Family Day at a Frederick Keys game to raise $2,000.

Pub Date: 4/08/96

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