John Habib's City Sports: Numbers down in Ruth League baseball
Manchester Babe Ruth Baseball begins its 62nd season Sunday fielding eight teams of 14- and 15-year-olds in the Woodlock League but only three teams of 13-year-olds in the Lebel League.
Gary Ulbin, the organization's president, reports that 112 kids will participate in the Woodlock circuit, a mere 42 in the Lebel.
"We went from 68 kids last year to 42 this year competing on the 13-year-old level," said Ulbin. "We didn't see this coming until we held 10 registration dates and saw that only 12 or 13 (13-year-old) kids had signed up by the end of March. We did get a late rush of kids registering for the league after the hockey and basketball seasons ended, but not enough to match last year. Our Woodlock League numbers are down just eight players from last year."
Once he determined he had only enough players to field three Lebel teams, Ulbin reached out to other communities.
"We hooked up with Bow, which also had a low turnout on the 13-year-old level," Ulbin said. "We're going to play two of their 13-year-old teams. Our Lebel teams will play a 14-game schedule, which is what we normally play. We've built in some flexibility to possibly add more games and have dates available for make-up games."
Ulbin attributed the low turnout to a "combination of reasons.
"It's my understanding that the turnout for Little League Baseball in Manchester was down last year and again this year," he said. "I don't have the exact numbers, but I know Manchester South and Manchester East (Little Leagues) are down this year. Throw in lacrosse, soccer, AAU baseball and kids just losing interest in baseball, and that all adds up. The low turnout is not just happening in Manchester; it's all over the state."
Ulbin said Goffstown doesn't have a 13-year-old Babe Ruth program and Salem "is hurting in all age categories.
"We're staying ahead of the curve, and I'm happy to say we adjusted in time to field a competitive 13-year-old league this season," he said. "We're hosting a New England Babe Ruth Regional tournament at Gill Stadium in July, and we strongly believe we're going to field a competitive team."
- - - - - - -
GARDE BURGESS, president of the Youngsville Athletic Association, confirmed recently that his association terminated its Youngsville Hawks Pop Warner football program.
"It was done for many reasons, but the primary reason was the dwindling number of kids playing football and having too many football teams and other sports in the Manchester area," said Burgess.
- - - - - - -
THE AMOSKEAG Rugby Football Club will compete in the second annual Kyle Warren Memorial Cup game today in Pembroke at the Northeast Athletic Complex on 326 Buck St.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Warren, a native of California who moved to New Hampshire in 2003, died in 2010 in Afghanistan of injuries sustained when his military vehicle was attacked by insurgents with an improvised explosive device.
As part of this year's tribute to its fallen comrade, Amoskeag will host the Fort Drum (N.Y.) Barracks Rangers, with whom Warren had ties. Pregame ceremonies will commence at 2:45 p.m., with the game scheduled to start at 3.
Earlier today, at 10 a.m., the Amoskeag RFC men's, women's, and "old boys'' teams will face the Worcester (Mass.) RFC. Donations will be collected for the Wounded Warrior Project in honor of Warren throughout the day.
"Kyle played rugby for Amoskeag for four seasons prior to enlisting in the Army," said Alexander Gatzoulis, a club spokesman. "The (Fort Drum) match will start with 15 Amoskeag ruggers who had the honor of playing beside Kyle when he was a member of our team. Kyle died in service to us all, and to our great nation. He will forever be remembered by his friends at Amoskeag RFC."
Checks made out to the Wounded Warrior Project can be sent to the Amoskeag Rugby Football Club, c/o Alexander G. Gatzoulis, 27 Bay St., Manchester, NH 03104.
- - - - - - -
RUNNERS who like to mix a little tequila with their post-race sports drinks have a couple of options in the city this weekend.
Jillian's Billiards Club in the Millyard will serve as the starting and finishing point, as well as the site of the post-race party, for today's Total Image 5K/10K. The event, which is preceded at 9:30 a.m. by the Little Amigos Race for kids 12 and under, starts at 10. Race-day registration starts at 8:30. The post-race Cinco de Mayo celebration at Jillian's - which includes a buffet, cash bar and half-price margaritas - runs until 2 p.m.
Proceeds from the event benefit Easter Seals New Hampshire's Child Development Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In addition donations will be collected for Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequently helped investigators identify the suspects.
On Sunday, it's Millennium Running's turn to throw a Mexican-themed bash, this one the Cinco de Miles 5K, which starts and ends at Shorty's Mexican Roadhouse in Manchester. About 1,500 runners will weave north on Bicentennial Drive, cross into Hooksett and then wind back to the restaurant. The sold-out race starts at 9:30 a.m., with the party to follow.
- - - - - - -
JUST BEYOND the city border, the Educational Farm at Joppa Hill in Bedford is raffling a signed Tom Brady Patriots jersey to raise money for the farm. Tickets are only $25 each, and only 300 will be sold. The winner will be drawn at the farm's benefit auction at the Bedford Village Inn on Sunday, June 2. You do not have to be present at the drawing to win. For tickets, go to www.theeducationalfarm.org, click on the "Donate" button, and be sure to write "Tom Brady jersey" in the subject line and include your mailing address. Specify the number of tickets you want, and they will be mailed to you.
"City Sports" appears on Saturday in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at firstname.lastname@example.org.