For the first time in more than 16 years, Little League baseball is returning to Elizabethtown.
On Thursday, Dec. 6, the Elizabethtown Boys Club announced on Facebook that online registration for a new area Little League would begin on Monday, Dec. 10. It is open to all boys and girls under the age of 13 in both the Elizabethtown Area School District and the Donegal School District. The 13-14-year-old level (junior midget) will stay a part of the Lancaster County Baseball Youth Baseball League.
“Elizabethtown is a baseball community,” EBC baseball commissioner Jeremy Wolfe said. “Little League’s philosophy is the same as ours; it’s all about the kids, and we are very excited to become a member of an organization who shares that same belief.”
The EBC withdrew from its previous Little League partnership back in 2002, citing high chartering costs. In the ensuing time, however, affiliation has become more cost-effective, something that Wolfe and his staff recognized as part of an overall plan to overhaul youth baseball activities in Elizabethtown. Their goal was to charter up with Little League again following the refurbishment of the Poplar Street Park Fields at the GEARS Community Center while keeping registration costs the same.
“I can pretty much guarantee our baseball program is the cheapest you will find,” Wolfe said. “For our tee ballers just starting out, it’s $25, and for ages 6 to 12, it’s only $35. The things that Little League has done with cost structuring has enabled us to keep our fees the same.”
Wolfe noted that the ability to expand the program as a whole was also a factor in rejoining with Little League. He estimated a yearly participation count of 350 per year across each age level. That number is expected to increase now that the Donegal School District is being included, allowing for better long-term growth. The training programs and postseason tournaments provided by Little League were significant draws as well.
“What kid that loves baseball and takes the field doesn’t have the dream for a chance to play at Williamsport?” Wolfe said. “There are numerous kids from our program that make the trip to Williamsport to watch some of the Little League World Series. There is something to say for wearing the same patch on their arm as every player up there has on theirs.”
Walk-up registration will be available for five consecutive Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to noon beginning on Saturday, Jan. 5. Opening day for spring baseball is currently scheduled to be held at Wenger Field on Saturday, April 6.