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Must-click link: How little league baseball has transfomed Camden, New Jersey

May 13, 2014, 5:02 PM EDT


GQ has a long read by Kathy Dobie about Little League baseball’s role in the revival of downtrodden Camden, New Jersey. Transforming drug turf to baseball fields and former gang bangers and dealers into coaches and fans:

“When an addict tries to enter the park, [North Camden Little League founder Bryan Morton] blocks his path. ‘The park is for kids and their families today,’ Bryan says. The man looks flummoxed. ‘Where am I supposed to go?’ There’s absolutely no light in Bryan’s eyes when he says, ‘Not my problem.’ What incenses Bryan is that the children of North Camden are invisible to men like this. They must be, because how else could these junkies decide, again and again, that it’s okay to shoot up in front of 5-year-olds on slides, toddlers plucking at the grass?”

“Bryan’s philosophy in a nutshell: Don’t let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.”

Obviously it’s more complicated than that, but it’s a great read about people doing what they can.


  1. krypticking - May 13, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    Camden is an awful city. Never thought I’d see any progression with it.

  2. Innocent Bystander - May 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    Good for GQ getting a “story” out of this, but unfortunately from nearby suburbia I see no signs of revival in Camden.

  3. mustbechris - May 13, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    I hope you both read this before you commented on it. This story is fantastic, thank you for posting it.

    • zengreaser - May 13, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      It’s going to take more than Little League to turn around a city that dukes it out year in and year out with Detroit for Most Dangerous (murders per capita) City in America. I’m not trying to be a downer, it’s just a fact. I live 15 minutes away & I know just how bad it is there.

      • Innocent Bystander - May 13, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        That was basically the point of my original comment as well (I’m local too). I read the article. It was fine as far as a feel good story goes. Good for the Little League for creating anything positive in Camden. But I am doubtful that this is the catalyst for turning the city around. I would love for the writer to be correct, but to say this is the inspiration for a revival is either naïve or propaganda.

      • mustbechris - May 13, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        Fair enough on both accounts. It’s nice to hear that something – anything – is going on like this though. The writer is a bit over the top with the feel good/underdog nature of the story she is pushing, but on facts alone they’re really doing something amazing. As far as I’m concerned, if they’re keeping just one person from going down the wrong path – and doing it all for no profit, just because they want to save some kids from making decisions they made – then it’s a rousing success.

      • krypticking - May 14, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        Same, I live outside in cherry hill. Man, it’s no joke. Only reason to go there is drugs or if you have a death wish.

  4. afrancis55 - May 13, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    Maybe they outta try something like this with East St Louis, IL and Gary, Indiana. Those two places are just as terrible, if not worse as Camden.

  5. mungman69 - May 14, 2014 at 2:54 AM

    Hey, I was born in Camden and raised in Burlington Township, N., J. My wife grew up in Camden (Honest). That city is still the pit. All the jobs left and all that’s left is drugs and VERY CROOKED POLITIONS.
    I wish these ballplayers all the luck.

  6. numbskull111 - May 14, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Good article.

    One of the comments included a link to a documentary they are doing about this:


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