Home field coming for Junior baseball

Published 11:39 pm Friday, December 12, 2003

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Instead of traveling to about 50 games this summer, a group of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players from Niles will have their own field to practice and host games on.
Thanks, in part, to a donation of $115,000 by Muhammad and Lonnie Ali, a new baseball field is currently under construction near Howard and Ellis Schools in Howard Township.
Niles Community Schools will lease the property to Niles Junior Baseball for $1 a year for seven years. At the end of that time, ownership of the baseball diamond will revert to Niles Community Schools.
Niles Junior Baseball started last summer and is a team for 13- and 14-year-olds in the Niles Community Schools system. The team plays 40-50 games throughout the summer against other highly-competitive teams from around the Midwest.
Niles Junior Baseball is in no way intended to compete with Babe Ruth Baseball, another league for 13- and 14-year-olds which operates in the summer.
Niles Junior Baseball players will be encouraged to play in the Babe Ruth league in addition to participating on the Junior team.
The reason for construction of the new field is that there currently is no facility of the proper dimensions in Niles.
Junior baseball is an intermediate level between Little League and high school. The base paths are 75 feet, compared to 90 feet in high school and 60 feet in Little League.
Jim Brawley will serve as the coach of the Niles Junior Baseball team this summer. He led the Niles F.O.P. 12-year-old All-Stars to a district title and an appearance in the State Tournament last summer.