Volunteers driving force behind new Eudora baseball league
The summer sounds of cracking bats, cheering parents and umpires' calls may be a little louder and more frequent this season and in the future, thanks to changes in the Eudora Amateur Baseball Association.
At Monday's game between Eudora Red and Bonner Springs EABA, volunteers and parents ran concession stands, announced the batters, kept score and cheered on the young players who are part of a new league.
The Babe Ruth league is now the K-10 Corridor League, a five-team, independent competitive league of players 14 and younger. All teams are invited to play in Eudora. This means that even if a game is played between De Soto and Lansing, the players compete on Eudora's fields and buy concessions from Eudora's stands.
"We were down to two or three teams, and we didn't have any other alternative, unless we were going to join a league out of town, which would leave us with no games in Eudora," EABA President Paula Winkler said of last year's Babe Ruth league. "We did this to allow our kids to play in town."
The teams include two Eudora teams, Lansing, Bonner Springs and De Soto.
Yet having non-Eudora teams play each other on Eudora facilities doesn't really affect hometown players, said recreation director Diana Beebe.
"We agreed to allow a league that was formed to play on that particular field," she said.
The city softball leagues don't need the baseball field, she said. Traffic has increased on the baseball field, and it's open for practice most days before 5:30 p.m.
EABA volunteer Monica Durkin said the K-10 Corridor League benefited kids by giving them more opportunities to play in state tournaments.
Moreover, the league is considerably cheaper than similar operations in Olathe and other areas of Johnson County. Whereas other organizations charge about $1,800 for 20 games, supporters said, the K-10 Corridor League USSSA member, asks only $800 for 17 regular season games and additional post-season games.
Volunteer David Alvarez said the K-10 Corridor League has piqued the interest of those who have paid close to $2,000 to elsewhere.
"We had several calls," he said. "We're hoping to get teams from all over Johnson County and Lawrence."
Durkin attributed the low cost of all EABA's programs to volunteers who run concession stands and work in other areas of the league.
"The people that do the volunteer work are the ones who are the backbone," Durkin said. "Our goal is to make bb available to every youth who wants to participate in Eudora."
In addition to having more teams, next year EABA hopes to also have a 16-and-under division that would include new players and those who outgrow the current division after this season, which ends in mid-July.
Alvarez, Durkin and fellow EABA member Dave House talked about the league from the press box at the Laws Sports Complex baseball field in between announcing, running the scoreboard and cheering on the players. They estimated that board members collectively spend, collectively, about 100 hours per week working on the league they began organizing in February.
"I don't want to estimate," House said of the hours he puts into the league, even though he doesn't have any children playing this year. "I'd scare myself."
He added that the league does get a lot of help maintaining the grounds, thanks to the city.
Although EABA keeps revenue from concessions and charges league fees, board members said the revenue goes into costs such as uniforms, league fees, umpires and insurance.
"It's not a money-making deal," Alvarez said. "This year, due to a lot of volunteers, we didn't have to do door-to-door fund-raisers."
But parents and other volunteers will continue to sell popcorn and soda at the concession stands, and the league will sell fireworks from a tent for the Fourth of July.
"People show up at the game and think it happens," Alvarez said. "Until you're in it, you don't realize how much it takes."