• 72°

It’s all about the smiles… ECCYBSA brings happiness to area youth through baseball and softball

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com    
There is one thing about summer that kids who love to play baseball and softball look forward to and that is putting on the T-shirt, baseball pants, and cleats and joining with your teammates on a dusty ball field to square off with another opponent.
After a week of rainy weather delayed the start, the last couple of weeks have been filled with the sound of the ball hitting the leather of a glove as it clinks off a metal bat as games featuring T-ball have been played at the ballpark in Black Bottom behind the old armory, softball being played behind the Carter County jail, and coach-pitch and 9-12-year-old baseball being played at Lions Park.
The games have been competitive but that’s not the main purpose behind the league as it’s all about kids enjoying a favorite pastime of summer.
Many can look back over the years and remember as a youngster being able to play Little League, Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, and other league play during their time growing up.
I remember the days of playing Little League and to this day I can remember the smell more than anything of how the dirt of the field even had a different smell than other dirt for some odd reason.
Then there was the waffle of air coming from the concession stand of hot dogs and chili being cooked as well as the tantalizing smell of fresh popcorn just being popped.
But the games are something that I will never forget as I played for Athletics Unlimited and for two years we were untouchable going 28-0 in those two seasons.
Yet it is was not the wins that I care about or remember the most but the friendships that were carved over those two seasons will never be forgotten – Jeff Mann, Donnie Ratliff, David Stapleton, Rex Gardner, and Gary Gardner along with my head coach Howard Gardner are people whom I will forever remember from my playing days.
Back then, often the ball fields were the only source for neighborhood boys and girls to find some fun during their summer breaks from school.
While today many have taken it a step further by engaging in competitive travel ball, others just like being able to get outdoors regardless of whether they get a hit or if they are the pitcher or the catcher.
This year’s league has shown the dedication of a host of coaches who love the game and enjoy teaching the younger ones to enjoy the game as much as they do.
And while the kids are having fun on the field, parents and grandparents have been busy taking pictures to capture moments that their son or daughter can look back on as they get older to remember their time playing on the baseball or softball diamond.
Coaches have gone the extra step in wearing masks due to coronavirus even when the temperatures have been well into the 90’s on several days.
But the bottom line of the season so far is that those kids who are participating are enjoying themselves and being able to have a time to socialize with other young people their age even during the memorable pandemic of 2020.
ECCYBSA – Elizabethton Carter County Youth Baseball and Softball Association thank you for making this summer one filled with smiles both on the field and outside the fences for these young girls and boys along with their families.