Buck Leonard baseball league begins
BY PATRICK MASON
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
The four teams in the Buck Leonard 14U baseball league lined the field at Stith-Talbert Park on Monday for the opening ceremonies.
The teams pay homage to the Negro League teams, and include the Birmingham Black Barons, the New York Black Yankees, the Homestead Grays and the Newark Eagles. All four teams feature both boys and girls from Rocky Mount.
The league plays games beginning at 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, with a league for six- to 10-year-olds planned for later in the summer.
“It’s important for kids to be a part of something,” said Rose Hunter, director of the Buck Leonard Association for Sports and Human Enrichment. “And I believe that baseball is a gateway sport. It can open doors to many other sports.”
The nonprofit organization is built upon a foundation of volunteers. All of the coaches are volunteers, and the umpire fees are taken care of by the city. Some of the equipment — like catchers gear and bats — is donated, while the uniforms were bought with money from donations to the foundation.
During the opening ceremonies, a prayer was delivered, several board members spoke and each player was asked to say their name and position, which was followed by a large applause.
Organizers hope that the league can bring together members of the community, while helping the players feel included in that community. Police officers, council members, regular citizens and more are invited to sit in the dugout with the players.
Board chair Natarlin Best planned to sit on the bench with the Yankees.
“We would love it for anyone who wants to join in to do so,” Best said. “Things like this are the best crime prevention around. It’s positive reinforcement, getting these kids out here to be a part of a team atmosphere is a great way to learn valuable life skills.”