Tuff Robinson scores a run during the 2019 Little League season. File photo.
By Tim Chambers
I’ve had several emails asking me about how I feel about the cancelation of the Little League Baseball in Johnson County this year. The answer can be found in a place like Kingsport every weekend.Take in a USSAA baseball game sometime watching kids ages 9-12. You’ll see players that are far more advanced in hitting and fielding skills than you’ll find at the Little League level. Many will complain about cost and such when it comes to Little League versus USSAA baseball, but you can bet that junior high and high school coaches would welcome having players come into their program with excellent skill sets and knowing fundamentals of the game.
As to cancel the season due to safety issues, what about kids who want to play that don’t want to take a season off? What do they do? Many will look for a team to play on, and when they leave the Little League program, they will come back. What happens later is the league gets watered down talent-wise, and the product is not very good. Little League Baseball has been good over the years, but it’s suddenly giving way to what some refer to as travel baseball. Young athletes that have the goals of playing at a high level want to play against the best players and at a high level of competition.
An example is Elizabethton High School senior centerfielder Evan Carter. He was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 50th pick in this year’s major league draft and recently agreed to a 1.25 million dollar signing bonus. The same kid that played against Johnson County for the past four seasons.And while Carter is one of few that make it take Johnson County’s Petie Pavusek who signed a scholarship back in the spring with King College. Pavusek came up in the Johnson County Little League program but did play outside of it against some pretty good competition where college coaches got to see his talents.
I’ve not always been right, but I do believe that Johnson County should rethink its decision to deprive the kids of this county the opportunity to play baseball even if it means not playing in the Little League association this year. Baseball of some sort is better than no baseball at all. Take advantage of the good baseball men you have up here like Charlie Jennings and Kevin Blevins. Our kids need instruction. And you won’t find anyone better to work with softball players than Angela Blevins, who was an All American and Hall of Fame player.
I enjoyed the weekend watching my two grandsons play in the championship game of the ten and under, and seven and under games in Kingsport. A large crowd was on hand to watch both games, and the kids all seem to enjoy it. Feel free to send me an email and tell me what you think. Oh well, what do I know?
Tim Chambers is the sports editor for the Tomahawk. You can email him at [email protected]