Put me in, coach
There appears to be a smaller number of players grabbing their mitt and picking up a baseball these days.
That’s something Baseball CBN president Scott Mercer is looking to change.
“I’d like to get the word out and draw some more people into the game,” he said sitting in the organization’s clubhouse in Upper Island Cove.
The Island Cove field is one of four used by the association. There are two in Spaniard’s Bay and another in Harbour Grace.
While the numbers have seen a slight upturn in recent weeks, coinciding with the weather turning and school winding down, Mercer said there is fur- ther room for growth.
That’s where the organization’s new website and increased presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter come into play.
“I’m not that good at updating, but we have people who are proficient at it,” said Mercer. “How can we improve? That’s why we developed the website. I think that’ll be a big help in the long run. “It’s just having it catch on.” When the calendar turns to summer, the competition for the young athletes in the region starts to heat up.
Between baseball, softball, swimming, soccer, camping and now, ball hockey, there is plenty for children to do but only so many hours in the day to do it.
Parents are pulled in so many directions that potential players often stick to the sport that their friends are playing.
That’s where a stable all-star program, supported by an equally as stable house league program comes into the conversation.
Mercer has turning around an admittedly struggling house league program on his agenda moving forward.
The plan includes a greater emphasis on encouraging players to come out for games and punching in their statistics on the website.
“Once we start plugging in the stats, I’m sure that will get a lot of hits (on the website),” said Mercer. “I’m hoping that will generate plenty of interest because kids love numbers.”
A strong history
Conception Bay North has long been a bastion for the game of baseball. While programs in Placentia fell to the wayside, similar ones in C.B.N. thrived. Players like David Carpenter, Frankie Carpenter, Tyler Thompson, Bradley Penney and others got their start in associations in Harbour Grace, Carbonear and Upper Island Cove.
When associations in Bay Roberts and Spaniard’s Bay, along with Carbonear and Harbour Grace became one with Island Cove and formed what today is known as Baseball CBN, that strong tradition continued.
The program has produced provincial level talent and sent players to the Canada Games, as well as national competitions.
Seeing the big club
Sometimes, drawing numbers to a specific sport is as simple as having a big tournament for younger players to witness.
If they see some high level baseball being played, they may be more likely to leave the field saying, ‘I want to play that.’
Mercer recognizes this and hopes the three divisional tournaments planned at home for the first weekend in July, along with the bantam AAA provincial tournament in town in August, will spark interest amongst the casual observer.
“Years ago, there were always tournaments here and that’s how the game grew,” said Mercer. “What we’re trying instill is ‘what’s old is new again.’”