03/23/04 — Jackie Robinson league looking for players

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Jackie Robinson league looking for players

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 23, 2004 2:04 PM

An effort to improve the baseball skills of Wayne County young people will get under way this weekend.

The newly formed Jackie Robinson League is inviting any girl or boy between the ages of 6 and 9 to register to play at one of three locations.

Children can enroll for the league Saturday at the Herman Park Center or the Lincoln Homes Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon and at the Seymour Homes Community Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The following weekend, Saturday, April 3, registration will take place at the Fairview Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon, and at the West Haven Community Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A hot dog lunch will be provided both weekends for free by Southco Distributing Inc. at the registration places.

"Though we formed this to provide baseball to inner-city kids, it's open to anyone in the county that wants to join," said Garry Phifer, president of the league. "There is no charge."

The brainchild of Goldsboro Mayor Al King and businessman Richard "Rooster" Narron, the league is designed to provide an avenue for children to learn about baseball and play the game.

Narron, a former professional baseball player, began talking with King about a year ago about starting a league. The two were concerned about how Goldsboro was losing baseball talent from the black community.

When Coach Charles Lane, Garry Phifer and Gene Thomas heard about the plans for an inner-city league, they offered their help.

Phifer said the league would provide its players with the opportunity to learn and play baseball while developing respect for their coaches, their teammates and opponents and -- most important -- for themselves.

Coach Charles Lane, the commissioner of the league, is eager to get the children involved in the sport.

"And we'd like to involve as many people and organizations in the community as we can," Lane said. "A child idle finds negative things to do."

Lane said that the skills the children learned in baseball would spill over to other sports.

"They'll have a quicker reflex, learn sportsmanship, and team work," he said. "This easily transfers from one sport to another."

Phifer said personnel from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were getting involved, to help mentor children.

The Red Cross and members of the base clinic will also give a first aid clinic to coaches.

After registration, there will be a tryout clinic on May 1. Practice is scheduled to begin the week of May 8, with the start of the season beginning on June 5. Opening day celebrations will include a parade of teams.

Both men said more coaches are needed.

"We have kids that have ability," Lane said. "They just need to get a chance to use it."

For those interested in volunteering, contact Lane at 736-0018 or Phifer at 736-3306.

If anyone has used or new baseball equipment they would like to donate, there is an equipment bank set up at the Sportsman's World Store on Ash Street.

Monetary donations can be sent to the Jackie Robinson League, care of the Mayor's Office, P.O. Drawer A, Goldsboro, N.C. 27533.