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There are too many little leaguers in San Francisco

Apr 11, 2011, 9:12 AM EDT

Little League

Not long ago we passed along a story about how interest in baseball is down among America’s youth and how little league participation is declining. Not so in San Francisco where Giants-inspired enthusiasm has leagues overflowing and a shortage of coaches and fields:

The leagues are struggling to find enough fields for games and practices. San Francisco Little League controls three fields on Treasure Island, a windswept former Navy base in San Francisco Bay just off the Bay Bridge, and is seeking more from the city’s parks department. In addition, more players mean a need for more coaches. “We had to twist some arms,” said Bill Johnston, the commissioner of Mill Valley Little League’s minors division.

San Francisco is shipping kids up to Mill Valley in Marin County to play. Which is a problem because Mill Valley is itself seeing an overflow of players. Rather than fear the beard, the Bay Area’s youth were lured in by it.

I don’t know that this is terribly significant for that whole “kids aren’t into baseball anymore” thing, but it is certainly indicative of how baseball is an extremely local sport and how what’s going on on a national scale, be it in TV ratings or cultural dynamics or anything, is not the whole story. Not by a long shot.

  1. halladaysbicepts - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Yeah, I hear that their uniforms will be rainbow colored.

    • The Common Man/ - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      They’re wearing Astros throwbacks? That’s pretty awesome.

      • cur68 - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:37 PM

        I thought you guys did that on purpose! Now I think less of all of yo…u.

      • cur68 - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        and that, of course, was meant to go below paperlion’s last. Man, what is it with this thread, a billy goat curse or something?

    • paperlions - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Perhaps, I am willing to be most of the kids also know now to spell “biceps”

      • jimbo1949 - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        spelchek? what a concep!

      • paperlions - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:08 PM

        ….so….of course, I mispell “bet” *doh*

  2. The Common Man/ - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    I predict we see a rash of players and bloggers emanating from NoCal in about 10-15 years.

  3. Jonny 5 - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Nj has had a pretty steady flow of Little league participation. They’ve had 15 qualifiers for the L.L. WS, and 4 L.L. WS champs. Not too bad for a tiny state. Ever since the Phillies began winning I have seen an uptick in South Jersey participation. It’s a good thing imo.

    • Detroit Michael - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      New Jersey is ranked 11th among the 50 states by population. Not what I’d call tiny.

      Unless you are trying to claim there should be a strong correlation between a state’s land area and its production of baseball prospects, in which case we can all jeer Alaska’s baseball deficient proclivities. 😉

  4. sdelmonte - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I would love to see the statistics for LL (and also HS varsity and other leagues for older kids and teens) for the NY and Boston areas, given the local teams’ ongoing popularity and near-dominance of the sports scenes.

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      Championships State(s)
      6x California
      4 x Connecticut, New Jersey , Pennsylvania
      3 x Georgia (U.S. state)
      2 x New York ,Texas , Hawaii
      1 x Alabama, Kentucky , Michigan, New Mexico, Washington (U.S. state)

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      Sorry Delmonte, I forgot to say these are championships for the LL WS. Half of which have gone to the US, the other half have gone to other countries.

      • sdelmonte - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        I meant in terms of sheer participation, but that 14 champs have come from the Yankee-Sox-Phillies-(Mets) belt might mean something too.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        Yeah, it’s tough since people generally don’t care about little league much. But yeah, the NE likes it’s LL baseball. And California is no slacker either.

  5. florida76 - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Actually, everything is connected, you can’t pick and choose items regarding the popularity of the sport. Back when MLB had good TV ratings(especially for the world series), kids everywhere were playing baseball.

    It’s reflective of the decline in popularity of the sport when local interest is the measuring stick in certain areas of the country.

  6. cur68 - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    I’d actually been thinking the 20% decrease noted by the Wall Street Journal had more to do with the nearly 20% decline in the birth rate over the past 20 years and not so much with the interest by kids (figures from 1991 to now show a 17% decease in the number of children per American household). In my mind ~20% fewer kids born = ~20% fewer kids playing Little League, but, I admit, some times my mind has me believing I got a shot at Jessica Alba. After all if looks, brains & personality don’t come into it I got a shot at her, right?

  7. bobulated - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    The same thing happened in Atlanta during the 90s when the Braves became relevant. The little league system exploded and the all star ball followed. A lot of talent has come into MLB from that system, especially for the Braves in guys like Brian McCann and Jason Heyward.

  8. clydeserra - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    I don’t think this is that dramatic. SF schools just reported about a jump in registration (i can’t recall what it was but it was 5-10 %). I don’t think that has anything to do with the giants winning the world series.

    Sure there is probably a bump in LL registration for the Giants, but its more likely the cities recent efforts to keep young families in the city, like the $400 per moth preschool for all subsidy, and the redevelopment of the parks to name a couple.

    Plus, the article doesn’t mention the other SF youth baseball league, maybe they are being poached?

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