The golden age of baseball.
Many things of significance happened in the summer of 1968.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain won 31 games on the mound.
Future Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was selected Rookie of the Year.
And locally, the London Area Baseball Council (LABC) was formed.
This year marks 50 years of hard-working volunteers providing America’s Pastime to the youth of this community. The current celebratory beneficiaries include 347 kids who make up 30 teams, tee-ball through 15u.
According to current LABC Chairman Landon McKenzie, the administrators of the league thought the best way to celebrate this Golden Anniversary would be to literally give the people what they asked for.
At the end of last year, the LABC leadership conducted a survey to see what families would like to see addressed. Several changes have been done to address those concerns.
Improved communication from coaches and the league was suggested. Now LABC utilizes an online registration through SI Play. This then allows the league to communicate with all involved, as well as individual coaches able to contact only their team.
Field conditions led to concerns about the number of cancelled games and practices. According to McKenzie, all new drainage and fencing have been installed at Burr-Wheeler Park to help alleviate that concern. Additionally, substantial work has been done to solidify the practice fields behind Lincoln Avenue, at Merri-Mac Park, and behind Kronk & Scaggs Insurance.
“We were able to do this through the generosity of sponsorships, contributions, and concession stand profits,” McKenzie said. “It was through businesses like Stanley Electric and ADS, and people like Will Koenig that made this possible.”
Also, the concession stand received a makeover, as did the women’s restroom at Burr-Wheeler. These were ways to help improve the overall experience for players and families.
The pitching machines will be replaced by coaches pitching to the players. Umpires go through a training process before working on the field.
Future areas they hope to address in the near future include more field upgrades, continued restroom renovations, and bleachers for the tee-ball fields.
In addition to McKenzie, others on the LABC leadership include Josh Peters, Bob Zabloudil, Renae Zabloudil, Jessica Cooper, Donovan Cooper, Bary Watkinson, Joe Patterson, Bob Patterson, Jon Peck, Mike Brooks, TJ Hill, Nancy Brooks, Erika Watkinson, Stacey McKenzie, Justin Collins and Jeff Thoman.
For more information, visit their website at www.labcbaseball.com.
Jeff Gates is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.
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