From the South Orange Dept. of Recreation & Cultural Affairs:
Parents, mark your calendars! While everyone else is gearing up for the holiday season, South Orange-Maplewood (SOM) Baseball is laying the foundation for an exciting 2019 baseball season. In-person registration for all interested players will take place at The Baird Community Center, 5 Mead Street, South Orange on January 12, 19, 26 and 27, from 1 – 4 p.m. All first time SOM Baseball players must register in person at one of these sessions. Online registration is available January 1-31 to all returning players and will be easier than ever (and fee free!).
The SOM Baseball program is the pride and joy of the South Orange Dept. of Recreation & Cultural Affairs. While the program is under the guidance of the Department of Recreation, a vibrant volunteer committee works all year long to provide the best possible baseball experience for community children. SOM Baseball is also affiliated with the national Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth organization, which provides league structure that encourages player development, guidelines and rules of play at each level, a vast resource of knowledge and guidance, and a “tournament track” to the Cal Ripken World Series for qualifying teams.
The spring baseball season begins in April and ends in early June, with league playoffs and championship games for Minors, Majors and Babe Ruth Leagues. In 2018, SOM Baseball served nearly 800 local children, between the ages of 5 and 15, on 66 teams. The long-running league is dedicated to creating a fun, inclusive experience for every child in South Orange and Maplewood, regardless of age or skill level. More than 180 volunteers served as coaches or team managers last season, some for the first time and many with years of experience. Each year, multiple coaching clinics are offered for new and returning coaches. Last season our coaches were invited by Rob Sheppard, coach of Seton Hall University Baseball, to attend a team practice and pick up some pointers. Other clinics focused on pitching, rules and running efficient practices. A new lineup of clinics for 2019 will be announced in December.
The baseball community can anticipate ongoing athletic facility improvement in the coming years. This past season, the Village unveiled the renovated historic Cameron Field. This regulation baseball diamond once hosted Negro League games and visits from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It is now the home field for our own Babe Ruth League and the Columbia High School varsity baseball team plays a special game under the lights there each season. Meadowlands Field 3 will undergo renovation in time to be open for the 2019 season. Meadowland 3 is the home field for the CHS girls’ varsity softball team and the primary field for our Cal Ripken Majors 70 league. Two additional baseball/softball infields at New Waterlands Park are scheduled for upgrade in 2019 and future plans will include additional field improvements in Maplewood and South Orange.
If you have a current or future ballplayer in your family, January is registration time. In the meantime, check out our league website (www.sombaseball.org) for additional information, including an updated list of the SOM Baseball subcommittee heads. If you are interested in volunteering for a particular sub-committee, you can contact that committee representative directly.