Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why no Babe Ruth?

7/14/2014

I am writing in response to a letter submitted by Bob Willis, Kansas Babe Ruth Leagues Inc., state commissioner, and which was published in the July 8 Herald.

I believe it necessary, as the president of the Ottawa Babe Ruth League when the decision was made to stop our affiliation with Babe Ruth Baseball, to answer his questions and hopefully set the record straight for anyone else who is interested in youth baseball at the same time.

I am writing in response to a letter submitted by Bob Willis, Kansas Babe Ruth Leagues Inc., state commissioner, and which was published in the July 8 Herald.

I believe it necessary, as the president of the Ottawa Babe Ruth League when the decision was made to stop our affiliation with Babe Ruth Baseball, to answer his questions and hopefully set the record straight for anyone else who is interested in youth baseball at the same time.

Ottawa Babe Ruth League has fought with the boundary set on us by the state league for years. Our boundary has been the Ottawa school district boundary. The problem has been that several families who go to school in Ottawa live in an adjacent school district. Therefore, the children of those families could not play Babe Ruth baseball (or Cal Ripkin) in Ottawa with their friends from school, by rule. They would be forced to find another program somewhere else. This was simply not acceptable to me or many other board members at the time or in the past. The penalty for getting caught allowing someone out of district to play in our leagues was very severe.

The solution I sought was an agreement between Ottawa Babe Ruth League and the only adjacent league to us (West Franklin). What the two leagues agreed to was to allow players in this boundary situation the choice to play in either league. An agreement like this between leagues is acceptable to Babe Ruth baseball. All that had to happen for this to become reality was for the district and state commissioners to OK it. If they would have done this, the regional and national commissioners would have signed off on it, and we would still be playing Babe Ruth baseball in Ottawa. But Mr. Willis would not OK it, accusing us of recruiting players. We simply wanted to allow kids the choice to play baseball with their friends from school. That is all.

Shortly after this, the Ottawa Babe Ruth League board voted to end our relationship with Kansas Babe Ruth Leagues and dismantle the local league, being assured that the Ottawa Recreation Commission would step in and continue an unaffiliated recreational league. A few days after this, I received a call from the chief executive officer of Babe Ruth to discuss our leaving and was told that they were looking at changing the rules. Except for this issue, I don’t have a serious problem with Babe Ruth.

So, Mr. Willis, if you are still curious why Ottawa doesn’t play Babe Ruth baseball, look in the mirror.

Loren Stewart,

former president,

Ottawa Babe Ruth League

comments powered by Disqus