Throughout the years, I have written several letters which, in essence, take up for the Minden recreation department. At the risk of being redundant, I offer another diatribe towards those who complain, which just happens to coincide with the annual baseball draft.
For those that don't know, I have been involved in the Minden recreation department for 40 years as player, coach, umpire, and just general flunky. I know what it takes to run a baseball league of 1,200 players. And what Winky and his staff do is nothing less than remarkable.
I understand that the phones have been ringing off the hook at the recreation office with parents complaining about the team that their child will be playing on. They want their child to play on his friend's team, or for another coach's team, or for another sponsor's team. They aren't satisfied with the way things turned out for little Junior. What will it hurt for little Junior to make a few new friends this summer? Leave Winky and Connie and Zita alone. Think about what you have given to you with this league before you start complaining.
The recreation department does everything within its power to ensure that each and every child is treated fairly. The draft is the fairest way to split up teams. If every child was allowed to choose the team they wanted to play on, there would be one or two teams in each league with the best athletes. If a coach was allowed to build a team of his own, he would only choose the best athletes. Then what would happen to the rest of the children? The rules were created to stop parents and kids from picking their own teams. The rules are fair for the kids, fair for the parents, fair for the coaches, and fair for the league. Without these rules, there would be total anarchy.
In addition, what more can you ask for when you are paying $10 for your child to play 12 to 15 games of organized baseball or softball? Ten whole dollars. For the price of a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, you get an entire season of ball.
You don't have to pay for uniforms. The city works hard to find sponsors to buy the uniforms. You don't have to buy equipment. The city provides catcher's gear, helmets, bats, and balls. You don't have to find a coach. The city did that for you. You don't have to find and pay for umpires. The city pays for them. You didn't have to cut the grass on the fields, line the fields, or rake the fields. The city handles that for you too. Even if you don't live in Minden, you still don't have to pay for any of this. You still only pay $10 to play in an organized recreation league totally funded by the City of Minden and its taxpayers.
The city spends a lot of money for these leagues. Think about it. If there are 1,200 players at $10 each, the city brings in $12,000. That doesn't even cover half of the cost for umpires and official scorekeepers, which run over $25,000 a summer. If there are 22 games per night, estimating an average of six new balls per game, the city pays almost $25,000 a year for balls. This doesn't include practice balls. They also buy some new equipment every year to replace old helmets, catcher's gear, etc. This year, they will replace all of the bats, as there have been rule changes. They pay for fertilizer for the fields, lime to line the fields, fees to Dixie to participate in their program, employees to have the fields ready, employees to coordinate and oversee the programs, etc. The total cost to the city for all the leagues, even after factoring in any profit that is made at the concession stand, is probably nearly $100,000.
So, the next time you get ready to pick up a phone to call and complain, don't. Take your child and go to Bossier, Haughton, or Homer to play. Be prepared to shell out $70 or more and then buy your own uniform and equipment, then take your turn to line the field and umpire. Or, just shut up and be thankful for what we have here.
Thanks to all who make our leagues the best in Louisiana.
Claude L. "Johnny" Johnson
Proud supporter of Minden recreation