Youth league baseball in Clayton sees increase in tryouts despite COVID-19

Sports

CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Is our national pastime dying? Many people say yes, but don’t tell that to many youngsters.

Seventy kids recently showed up on a weeknight in Clayton to try out for the DPC Academy 14- and 15-year-old teams.

“I don’t think baseball’s dying at all,” said DPC Baseball Academy 15U head coach Cameron Rollins. “The kids are still loving it.”

Rollins says every year the number of children trying out for the teams has increased. Even this year with all the uncertainty regarding COVID-19.

“Especially with what’s going on right now — COVID and all that stuff,” explained Rollins. “The fact that the kids want to be here and compete and play that’s better than anything in my book.”

In the 1990’s baseball participation peaked with nearly 3 million youths playing the game. Since that
time there has been a steady decline.

Why? Well some will point to technology. Interactive video games and cellphones are taking up large
chunks of time.

“For kids who really want to take their games to the next level and play professional baseball when
they’re older I think video games and phones are not a distraction for them if they really want it,” said Redick Kent who plays for the DPC 15U squad.

But most of the kids, play for fun and some of them will lose interest due to the perceived slow play in baseball, which is a deliberate game with plenty of time between pitches and half innings.

“I just think that’s people who don’t want to try to learn the game,” said Garrett Kime, Kent’s teammate.

“Like high school and college, college gets a bit slow I guess but major leagues and stuff like that are fun to watch.”

But there is one factor above all else that tends to get kids on the diamond. Growing up with the game.

“Just all my family played it,” Kime said. “My dad, my uncle, my cousins all of them.”

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