Put me in, coach

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.’”

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