Dixie Youth gets 56th season under way at Duncan Park Monday

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dixie Youth baseball kicked off its 56th season in Natchez Monday with four games at Duncan Park, and while some things have changed others have remained the same.

This year the program has 300 players participating, with 26 teams separated into four different divisions. Currently, there are eight T-ball teams (5-6 year-olds), while coach pitch (7-8 year- olds), the minor league (9-10 year-olds) and the major league (11-12 year-olds) each have six teams. Opening ceremonies for all teams are slated for 5:30 p.m.Monday at Duncan Park.

The league is run by a board of directors that consists of William Barnes, Angie Hallowell, Glenn Carroll, Kevin Whittington, Charles Zuccaro, Mark McCann, Tim McCann, Jo Jo Eidt, Garnell Webb, Porky Smith, Brian Adams, Mike Anderson, Neil Brown and Wes Gore.

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Eidt, who is a board member and a commissioner for the major league, played Dixie Youth baseball as child.

“We had wooden bats and wool uniforms then,” he said.

Eidt said while the appearance of the uniforms has changed and the design of batting helmets has improved, one thing that has stayed the same is what Dixie Youth offers the community.

“It is good wholesome, family entertainment. Admission is free and we don’t ask the parents to work. Plus the kids have a beautiful place to play baseball,” he said.

Angie Hallowell, a board member and a commissioner for the minor league, said she was raised on Ferriday Dixie Youth baseball, and agreed with Eidt.

“It is an activity the whole family can enjoy, I can’t think of a better way to get the kids out and involved.”

Another aspect that has made the 56 -year-old program a success has been that it is open to all kids.

“It’s for all kids, for anybody that wants to play. It’s not a select team,” major league commissioner and board member Porky Smith said.

In Dixie Youth, every player must play at least one complete inning, or three consecutive outs. Every player also must get a chance to bat.

Shannon Wilson has two sons, Jonathan and Jacob, and both play Dixie Youth. She said the program not only teachers her sons many important life lessons, but also give her the chance to watch them grow.

“It teaches players respect, how to be team players and how to follow directions,”

she said. “You get to watch them grow in the sport, and you get to watch them grow mentally and physically. It’s awesome.”

Sports Center coach Bruce Ross has been involved in coaching Dixie Youth since his son, who is now in the major league, was in T-ball.

“I enjoy helping kids, and I get to spend more time with my own kids,” he said.

Ross added that Dixie Youth also brings people together at the park.

Scottie Floyd, head coach for Premo Stallone, said he, like Ross, got involved in coaching when his son started playing T-ball.

“It’s a good opportunity to spend time with family, and it is a good way to give back to the community,” Floyd said.

He said Dixie Youth is good activity for kids to be involved in.

“It keeps them off the street, gives them something to do with their buddies and it keeps them physically active,” Floyd said.

Sports Center team pitcher and position player Brandon Ross, 11, said he plays baseball because it is fun, and because he gets a good work out. R D Hall, 10, of David New Oil Company team said he too gets a lot of exercise from playing baseball.

“I like being the pitcher the most,” Hall said. “I get the most attention and I can strike people out.”

Hall’s parents, Dale and Theresa, said their son has played since T-ball. They said Dixie Youth has been good so far, and said it is well organized.

They said the main thing is their son seems to enjoy playing, and it gives him a chance to find a sport he likes.

“I enjoy coming to the games,” Theresa said. “It’s a good outing for us.”