Cup O’ Joe: Support local ball players

12 years ago

Future baseball and softball players will be showcasing their skills this week as the Houlton Area Little League holds its town championships. Three separate champs will be crowned during games played Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
A softball champ will be decided Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Porter Field in Houlton Community Park, while the Minors title is up for grabs Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Savings Bank of Maine Field next to Houlton Elementary School. Athletes in the Majors group will play for the town championship 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rotary Field, also near HES. The softball and Minors title games could go to a second “winner-take-all” game depending on their outcomes.
    For many, the memories made during Little League are still easily recalled. Talk with any adult male, and chances are they can remember time spent playing on a baseball diamond at some point.
Personally, I can still vividly remember playing for the George S. Gentle Little League team. Back in my day, there was no Minor and Major divisions. Young boys — and a few girls since there was no softball league — between the ages of 9-12 all competed on the same team. The younger players often found themselves in the outfield, while the older ones filled the infield positions.
Making the transition from outfield to infield was a rite of passage for many youngsters as it meant more action on the diamond since the majority of batters had a hard time getting the ball out of the infield. Parents typically lined the field in Community Park and blasted their horns when someone made a good catch, had a solid hit or scored a run.
I was fortunate enough to play in one town championship as a youth. Winning the league title earned a nifty little trophy (which I still have), bragging rights for the rest of the summer, and naturally a trip to Drake’s Dairy Bar for the all-important victory ice cream. Back then, we used to all pile into the back of a pickup truck to make the trek up Drake’s Hill for celebratory sweets.
Times have changed, though, and anyone trying to do this nowadays would likely find himself or herself answering a fair number of questions with the local police.
Watching youths play is also one of the more rewarding activities a person can do, and it sends a strong, positive message to today’s youth. Playing before a large crowd of fans certainly adds to the excitement for each youngster.
Baseball (and softball) can teach valuable life lessons such as teamwork and the importance of practicing in order to show improvement on the field.
So, if you are out and about on Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday evening, take a swing by one of the fields and cheer on the teams. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know any of the children playing. Simply take in the game and cheer on the youths.
Joseph Cyr is a staff writer for the Houlton Pioneer Times. He can be reached at pioneertimes@nepublish.com or 532-2281.