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Friday, November 16, 2018

Little League Baseball Alive and Well on the Southside

Little League BaseballAs the South Mountain Little League enters into its 61st year, the future looks brighter than ever after undergoing renovations and recently welcoming the new season with its annual opening ceremony.


The league was founded in 1953 by Jimmy Ruiz and was given a deed, which was given to the children of the South Mountain community.  The league operates three baseball fields that host games for the t-ball, coach pitch and the “major” teams.  The leagues rise to fame was in 1965 when one of the South Mountain teams went to the Little League Baseball World Series.


“A big part of the success for little leagues comes from its volunteers and sadly a lot of leagues have gone under because there is no volunteer involvement,” said Michael Martinez, who is the coordinator of the league and a board member.


Martinez, who had left the league in 2012-13, returned after receiving a call from Jimmy Pesqueda, a close friend and president of the board after the fields had been vandalized and was hoping to get word out to the community.


“When my son saw the conditions of the field he almost cried and from then on I knew I had to get involved,” Martinez said.


This year the South Mountain Little League Board gained new members and is eager to make this season one of their best yet.  Whether the members are new or have been involved for several years it is safe to say that they are all passionate about the league and for the love of baseball.


“You can feel a real sense of community here and today is a good example of that,” said Mark Lane, who has been the district administrator for Arizona district three for the past eight years and oversees 13 other little leagues.


The participation of the league runs on volunteers and donations involvement from the families whose children are signed up.  A big help that contributed to the renovations for the fields this year came from sponsors around the South Mountain community, such as Jose Diaz Tile Contractor, who provided new fencing, High Desert Little League, Arizona Diamondbacks and Special Moments Catering, who provided the food for the opening ceremony.  Also, the Levecke family, who own Pizza Patron and Carl’s Jr. franchises provided new paint, plumbing and invested in other items to bring the facility up to code.


“What I like about this league is the sense of community, everyone coming together and being able to make a difference and impact in kids’ lives,” said Chirs Leon, who has been a part of the league and coached for 18 years.


The league is always open to new volunteers and encourages the South Mountain community to come out and enjoy some baseball.


By Madeline Valencia


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