Babe Ruth baseball no more

Published 1:20 am Friday, March 17, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Babe Ruth baseball league has been a part of Niles for the past 30 years.
The league, which was played at Thomas Memorial Stadium, has built some of the best baseball players in the area and has hosted some of the most talented teams in the state of Michigan.
The 19 signs on the back of the enterance way bleachers says it all. They are hung to acknowledge the past teams and players who have won the state title.
However, Babe Ruth baseball is now a thing of the past.
This year, the league is being chartered through Little League International.
The league will be open to athletes 13-18 years old.
With Little League, teams will now be able to face a lot more teams in the All-Star tournaments.
One of the biggest differences in the tourney trail will be the fact that Little League has a district, state and regional tournament with more participation from surrounding leagues.
The Niles Little League will be part of District 15. There are a total of 16 Districts in the state. When Little League teams in Niles compete in the district tournaments, they will be competing against teams from Cassopolis, Constantine, Centreville, Coldwater, Dowagiac, Mendon, Marcellus, Mattawan, Schoolcraft, Decatur, Vicksburg, Coloma, Three Rivers and South Haven.
Once the district championship is won, teams go up against the winners of the other Districts throughout the state. Again, the level of competition is greatly increased because of the amount of teams involved in the Little League program throughout the state.
Zimmerman is the parent of two children that got their start at the Niles FOP.
FOP was the only other park in the city to offer Little League until these changes.
The situation with Thomas Stadium will be the same as it is at FOP. Once the regular season is over, All-star teams will compete in tournaments and then advance to either a state regional tournament or go directly to the State Tournament.
Once you get to the District level, you can see that the level of baseball competition greatly improves from just participating in local tournaments.
Final registration and tryouts for the Greater Niles Baseball League will be on March 25 at Ring Lardner Middle School from 10 a.m. to noon.