Tradition runs deep in small towns, and one of those traditions is the Macon Baseball Association. For more than 50 years the MBA has provided a strong influence in the lives of many young people in the community.
According to the archives of the Macon Chronicle-Herald, an organizational meeting to organize the Macon Baseball Association was held on July 23, 1958, in the office of the Macon School Superintendent Laurence E. Phelps. Attending were Phelps, Coach Hugh Dunn, Dr. R.D. Maddox, Wayne Morris, Vernon E. Leist, James Albach and Kenneth D. Yeast.
The group’s main goal was, “to organize a local league that will enable every boy who comes out for baseball a chance to play.”
At that time, there were only three baseball teams that played in out-of-town leagues. The article noted that with only three teams it was impossible to give all the boys an equal chance to play and that many of the more inexperienced players lost interest early in the season. The group planned to divide the players as evenly as possible into teams to play one another in the MBA league.
This is also when plans were underway to build a new lighted baseball field at Macon High School. The lights were purchased through funds turned over from the Macon Centennial Committee. Money to complete the project was raised from a collection of $630 at the organizational meeting and pledges of future donations.
Spring forward to 2013 and the Macon Baseball Association is still around, organizing three fields of summer fun for more than 400 Macon boys and girls. In addition, Atlanta, Bevier and Clarence have around 200 kids playing on teams that also schedule to play through the MBA.
“I wish we had kept records all these years of everyone that has volunteered their time to serve on the board or coach a team,” said newly elected MBA President Tracy Cashatt.
Cashatt has been on the board for several years serving as a board member and two terms as vice-president of softball. He took over as president from Mike Kindle, who left after serving on the board for eight years, the last four as president. Kindle’s involvement with the MBA began with umpiring in 1977. He also coached for several years.
“I am proud that the MBA has stuck to their original goal that every kid that wants to be involved should have the chance to pick up a bat and ball and play,” said Kindle. “Some of the programs in other areas have stepped away from recreational play in favor of more competitive leagues.”
“It’s a program that continues to allow a great number of kids to play in a safe environment,” said Kindle. “It’s obvious as players go on to play on school teams that Macon has a strong summer program.”
Page 2 of 3 - Melinda Reilly is also leaving the board after serving as the league secretary since 2009.
“I have enjoyed serving on the MBA board,” said Reilly. “I love the fact that we get to give over 400 kids in the community the opportunity to have fun and play ball. For many kids, it might be the only time they experience the fun of playing on a team and really enjoying the game.”
Assisting Cashatt as 2013 board members are: Vice President Les Monroe—baseball; Vice President Josh Farmer—softball; Secretary Julie Hayes; Treasurer Clay Foster; Jason Martie, Cody Lewis, Daniel Waller, Levi Hillard, Chris Nelson and Kelly Perry.
“We have a good working board,” said Cashatt. “Everyone’s heart is in it.”
Even though the fields are owned by the Macon School District, the MBA works in cooperation with the school to constantly improve and update the three fields, seating, restrooms and concession areas.
“Working with the school is a good thing,” said Cashatt. “We do many little things to keep the fields in good shape like putting around $600 of fertilizer on the fields each year.”
Some of the more recent upgrades include new fencing and 200 tons of chat, a fine gravel, for the south younger boys field. Sand, a new picnic table, paint and a new admission gate for high school softball games has been added to the girl’s field.
“We had a professional company come in and look at the drainage on all the fields,” said Cashatt.
The north field behind the high school saw many improvements during the past year. More than $20,000 was spent on new drain tile, a north side retainer wall and fencing. Sponsors were solicited for advertising on the outfield fence to provide some of the funding.
“The entire field was brought up to specs,” said Cashatt. “The field was raised approximately 20 inches and all the bases were moved forward to make more room between home plate and the backstop.”
The MBA has spent $12,000 to install drain tile on the two fields located at the YMCA. The YMCA fields are often used for team practices and games when the school fields are too busy.
The MBA is a self-supporting organization, with its only income coming from player sign-up fees and concessions. The fees are used for medical and liability insurance, umpires, scorekeepers, concession workers, balls, equipment and maintenance and improvements of the fields.
“Every penny we make goes back into the program,” said Cashatt. Plans for this year include a new machine to drag the fields and work on the batting cages.
Page 3 of 3 - “Looking to the future we really need to do something to the bleachers at the girl’s field,” said Cashatt.
The MBA also provides summer employment for many young people who work as umpires, scorekeepers and concession stand workers.
For approximately six weeks during May and June the ball fields are the place to be for entertainment. People often bring their lawn chairs and come up to spend the evening watching games even if they don’t have anyone playing.
“I wonder how many peoples’ life history revolves around these ball fields?” said Tracy.
Sign-up nights for summer leagues are this week, March 14 and 15, in the Macon Elementary School Cafeteria from 6 to 8 p.m. Any boy or girl who will be five-years-old and no older than 18-years-old as of May 1, 2013 may sign up for ball.
Adults who are interested in coaching may sign up at this time. Come out and be a part of the tradition!