Traveling teams spend big bucks

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 5, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Take an expensive sport on the road and the bills become somewhat overwhelming.

A great deal of money is spent by coaches and parents funding the travel, food and equipment of the teams, particularly the teams that play in the United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA league.

Jeff Upton has coached his 10- and 12-year-old team the Mississippi Mudcats for four years in Natchez.

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&8220;I reckon that if my kids wanted to stay in Natchez and go see a movie or go to Baton Rouge to ride the water slides I&8217;d pay to let them do it,&8221; Upton said. &8220;My son would rather go to Baton Rouge to play in a baseball tournament, so I let him do it.&8221;

For starters, Upton said he pays an insurance fee from $100 to $120 per year and a sanction fee, to play in the USSSA league, of $30 to $60.

The games are played in a tournament style where a number of teams from across the country play against each other.

Upton said he pays tournament fees ranging from $100 to $150 for each tournament,

and if a team plays to qualify for a World Series tournament, that fee is $500.


summer leagues might play 15 games during a season, USSSA teams sometimes play more than 10 games a week.

&8220;We&8217;re playing in a super series tournament next weekend in St. Francisville,&8221; Upton said. &8220;If we win that then USSSA will refund our money and pay our way to play in the World Series in Collierville, Tenn.&8221;

Parents who let their children participate in the travel teams pay for uniforms, travel expenses, food and sometimes hotel stays.

David Lindsey&8217;s son Hunter, 10, plays for Ken Janette&8217;s &8220;Rough Necks.&8221;

Lindsey said he spent $60 on Hunter&8217;s uniform.

Teams often have sponsors that finance the uniforms in exchange for advertisement at the games, but there is still a matter of equipment such as gloves, bats and cleats.

&8220;I just bought Hunter a new bat for $200, but it&8217;s worth it,&8221; Lindsey said. &8220;My child loves baseball and I like to go to the ballparks in the different towns to watch him play.&8221;

During the week, the Mudcats and the Roughnecks travel to different towns like Baton Rouge, Denim Springs and Natchitoches.

Lindsey said he pays at least $100 in gas plus hotel stays which can cost $60 to $110 a night.

The ballparks within the towns that host the tournaments charge $3 to $5 per person to attend which does not include concessions.

&8220;I have another son who goes to see his brother play, and he&8217;ll hit me up for $20 for food at the park,&8221; Lindsey said. &8220;It gets to be pretty crazy