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Little Leaguers Fall Short of Fields

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CLAYTON — For some youngsters, the little league baseball diamond is a place for fun, sportsmanship and fellowship. But as the population in the Triangle continues to grow too quickly for the parks departments to keep up, some players could be left off the roster.

You'll find plenty of young eager players in the Clayton little leagues, but practice space is limited-- so limited that one team sometimes has to practice on a field that's not really a baseball field.

Coach Steve Ashvy' says it's hard for his kids to get used to playing real ball on a makeshift field.

The problem is-- the number of teams is growing, while the number of parks and rec fields remains the same.

Clayton owns two baseball fields, and borrows two baseball fields from the high school. The Parks and Rec Director, Larry Bailey, says the department is trying to get a $250,000 grant to build a facility with three new fields, plus six tennis courts and a 1/2 mile trail. That's at least two years away.

"We will have to look as we get into shortages," Bailey explains. "We will possibly have to come into other creative programming methods, and that might mean staggering leagues at different starting times, so that we are not putting everybody out there at one time."

If that plan doesn't work, it could mean some cuts for the league, and some kids could be left out of little baseball all together.

Parent Greg Parrish remembers what it was like when he played baseball. He found it to be a good experience, one that he would hate to see a kid in the '90's miss out on.

The Clayton Parks and Recreation Department was supposed to get state funding last year. But it was 54th on the priority list. The state's money ran out, unfortunately, at number 53.


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