District 161 nearly finished with budget cuts for this year

The gloves have been found. Bats and balls, caps and cleats — all are dusted off and ready to go. So are the players.

Homewood baseball season is about to begin.

Opening day will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 18, with the annual parade starting at Irwin Park. Hundreds of ballplayers and volunteers will march east on Ridge Road to the ball fields at Izaak Walton Preserve for ceremonies and activities to mark the beginning of the new season.

At Izaak Walton, all of the teams will assemble on the field to be recognized. There will be special recognition for last year’s 12U Ohio Valley Regional champion team, which participated in the Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Md., in August.

By the numbers, Homewood will have more than 850 players on 83 teams in seven divisions keeping the national pasttime alive. A 25-member board of directors manages the organization and 70 community partners provide support, according to Steve Anderson, Homewood Baseball and Softball president. 

“Numbers continue to grow and are up over the past two years,” Anderson said.

The organization, founded in 1951, is entirely run by volunteers, who do everything from coaching to operating concession stands to maintaining the fields.
Games are also played on Lions and Apollo park fields, but the organization is especially proud of its three fields at Izaak Walton, according to Anderson.

“Board members and families come and go but the one constant is the kids having a unique place to play the sport as they grow up,” Anderson said. “There is no other venue for youth baseball and softball in Chicago like our parks at Izaak Walton.”

Anderson said sod is replaced where needed every year, and last fall volunteers completely stripped and laid new grass on the organization’s showcase Ormsby Field.  This spring, crews spread more than 30 tons of stone around the park, rebuilt several pitchers mounds, completed major fence repair and drainage projects.  

“Every family volunteers to keep the league running strong,” Anderson said. “Our fields, buildings and grounds board volunteers are amazing.”

An important off-field feature is the organization’s redeveloped website at www.homewoodbaseballandsoftball.com, Anderson said. The new site includes online registration, a new league wide branding campaign with updated league logo. The schedules and scores are posted there, too.

“Our league’s purpose will always be to create fun, lasting memories through the game of baseball and softball for area kids and their families,” Anderson said in a recent Homewood Village Key article. “There’s no better place to be in the summer, than under the trees at Izaak Walton and being part of a game.”

Related story:
Homewood baseball team seeks community support for trip to World Series tournament (HF Chronicle, Aug. 3, 2014)

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]

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