My Turn: Concord youth baseball and softball are not in decline

For the Monitor
Published: 5/24/2019 12:15:27 AM
Modified: 5/24/2019 12:15:17 AM

Nick Stoico’s article “At Concord Little League, pastime keeps its passion” (Monitor front page, May 19), while ostensibly a celebration of youth baseball in Concord, comes off as a depiction of a sport in decline. But his article leaves out some important details that paint a very different picture.

First, the article fails to mention that Concord kids can play baseball for Concord Northeast Cal Ripken in addition to Concord Little League. Concord Northeast (CNE) currently has 128 kids playing baseball – up over 25% from last year – and another 43 playing tee-ball. Hopkinton, which is included in the borders for CNE, has over 70 registered baseball players. Combined with the kids in Concord Little League, these numbers show that baseball remains a popular option in the city. And once kids graduate from Concord Little League and Concord Northeast they can move on to Concord Babe Ruth, which serves players ages 13-15.

Just last summer, the Monitor reported on the Babe Ruth all-star team that advanced to the World Series in Seattle. Both in terms of participation and success on the field, baseball remains a popular option in Concord.

The article’s focus on baseball overlooks the incredible success and popularity of softball in Concord. Concord Northeast has 103 softball players this year. And Concord Northeast Softball is part of the larger Capital Area Softball organization, which encompasses eight softball leagues from seven towns in the area around Concord. This year Cap Area softball includes over 400 girls and young women on 42 teams. In recent years Cap Area softball teams have won statewide and regional tournaments, qualifying for the softball World Series in Florida.

Drop by Sanel Park off of Old Suncook Road on pretty much any day of the week and you’ll see kids playing tee-ball, baseball and softball while their friends and families cheer them on. You’ll see a small army of coaches and other volunteers, and you’ll see the names of the many local sponsors who support our vibrant league.

Baseball and softball, like other sports, are battling trends in youth athletics and society at large. But to depict youth baseball and softball as sports in decline, at least in the Concord area, is simply not supported by the evidence.

(Matthew Masur is executive vice president of Concord Northeast Cal Ripken.)

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