WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Monday was a special night for hundreds of Wichita kids as they swung into the 2017 baseball season.
League 42, a youth baseball team made up of primarily inner-city players, held its opening ceremony Monday night at McAdams Park.
“All of the off-season work comes to fruition tonight. We actually get kids and teams on the field with their coaches to play a game in their uniforms, so it’s a pretty big deal for us,” said League 42 Board Chairman Bob Lutz.
In attendance for the opening ceremony were dozens of eager kids and families.
“For me it means they are going to learn sportsmanship and how to be good-team players with everybody that they meet,” said Amanda Lucero.
Lucero has two kids who play for League 42. She said the baseball league is more than an after school activity for her kids, it’s an opportunity.
“It means everything. It’s amazing that League 42 can offer so much for so many people who wouldn’t have the chance to play baseball,” Lucero said. “It’s expensive to play baseball.”
“We have a lot of kids in our league that weren’t getting opportunities to play baseball. It’s an expensive sport, costs a lot of money,” Lutz said.
Lutz spear-headed the program in 2013. Since then, he has seen it grow from a small organization to an organization full of kids with heart and potential.
“A lot of them fall in love with the game. Some don’t, which is fine, but when they get to be 30 or 40 years old and somebody asks them, did you ever play baseball, they can answer affirmatively, so that’s a good thing,” Lutz said.
Players and parents told KSN they have learned more than the game of baseball through League 42.
“That we can all play together and learn new things,” said 9-year-old Natalee Ratliff.
“That you can be really good at baseball and have good sportsmanship,” said 9-year-old Jesus Lucero.
“Warm and fuzzy. Very proud of my kids. Proud to be part of this league and part of being a Wichitan,” Amanda Lucero said.
In 2014, League 42 had about 220 kids and 16 teams. In 2017, the leagues has more than 500 players and 42 teams.