Building a better leaguePublished 7:03pm Monday, March 19, 2012
Forget everything you’ve heard about the Greater Niles Little League.
New league president Tim Phillips and head umpire Bill Mangold say the league is changing for the better.
“We want to get the word out that we have all new people down there and our No. 1 priority is the kids,” Phillips said. “We are trying to build it back up so the kids have a healthy environment to play baseball in and learn the game.”
Mangold, who has been umping for several years, said politics and misconceptions have led to a steady decrease in kids joining the Greater Niles Little League since the mid- to late-1990s.
“It just slowly started going down and then more and more people leave, and there is a lot of mudslinging and numbers just fell off the table,” Mangold said. “All the politics that caused all this is gone.
“We are going to do a better job of screening coaches and umpires to make sure we get the right people in the right spots.”
Phillips said every kid would be treated fairly, regardless of skill level or family ties.
“If this kid gets 10 minutes with coach, then that kid will get 10 minutes with coach,” Phillips said. “We want to give the kids the opportunity that they deserve because sometimes they don’t always get that attention.”
Phillips also said there is a false notion that kids can’t play Cal Ripken baseball and Greater Niles Little League during the same season.
“Nobody can tell them where they can and can’t play. They can play both and that is one thing we wanted to get across,” he said.
Little League is for children ages 6-12 and is broken into two age groups: 6-9 and 9-12.
When a child turns 9, he has the ability to move up to the next level or stay at the lower level for another year.
Phillips said they plan to open the season April 29 at the FOP ballparks in Niles. He said the fire that destroyed the nearby FOP Lodge would not affect the season.
Sign-ups run from now until about the second week of April. Cost is $45 for one child, $70 for two and $90 for a family of three or more.
Sign up by calling Phillips at (269) 240-7313.
Phillips said they are accepting new coaches.