Red Stick Amateur Baseball League provides competitive outlet for former players
By Cody WorshamPosted Feb 29, 2012
Baseball, like youth, is something most of us don’t appreciate until it’s gone.
We grow up – like Ray Kinsella, some of us – thinking of the game like vegetables, but once we leave youth ball, high school, or, for a lucky few, college (or the pros, for an even luckier and fewer), the game is gone, reserved for dreams and dusty shelves.
Baton Rouge’s former fielders, however, have an avenue for further pursuit of the game, even if they don’t know it.
The Red Stick Amateur Baseball League is back in 2012, going on nearly two decades of relative anonymity. According to League Commissioner Locke Wheeler, the league has struggled to generate publicity from lack of funds, but not from lack of fun.
“Our league is about having fun,” he said, before further clarifying. “Competitive, highly-organized fun.”
Wheeler, who took the commissioner’s post in the middle of the last decade, said the league is made for the former player who has fallen in the gap between the playing days of the past and the lazy beer league.
“Once you get out of high school or college, you don’t really have that option like you do for other sports,” he said. “Baseball is not something that is out there. You have softball and golf and other activities for men, but baseball is not really one of them.”
Wheeler was clear to emphasize the balance of the league’s emphasis on competition and good times.
“We’re open and welcoming to all skill levels,” he said. “We aren’t trying to train someone to go off and be a pro player. But it’s also for someone that wants to come out there and be competitive.”
“We are not a beer league. That’s not what we do,” he added. “This is for someone who wants to play baseball.”
So far, the league has two divisions: an 18-and-older competitive division and more recreational, but still well contested 35-and-older split. There’s also a separate summer league for local college players, which Wheeler calls a sort of “local Cape Cod.” Games are played on Sunday afternoons in the spring and summer, with real umpires on well-manicured fields, as part of the Men’s Senior Baseball League, a national organizing party for similar competitive leagues.
Other such leagues around the country call themselves semi-pro, but Wheeler doesn’t apply the term here. Players pay for play, funding the league’s insurance, lease, and equipment expenses. Their reward, while not monetary, is priceless.
“It’s about going out there and doing what they love to do,” he said. “It’s awesome that they’re able to live out that passion for the game.”
Want to get back in the swing of the game? Open tryouts for the 18+ league of the Red Stick Amateur Baseball League are Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. at Port Allen High School. For more information, visit www.RedStickBaseball.com.