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Jackie Robinson League aims to provide baseball for all

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Eppes' Hayden Haff, left, high-fives a coach during their game against DTS at Thomas Foreman Park on June 20, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Jackie Robinson League of Greenville was established in 1991, and since then, the league has aimed to provide the opportunity for children to play ball and learn critical life lessons along the way.

“We wanted to provide children the opportunity to play ball when they may not have the means to,” league fundraising manager Norma Warren said of the advent of the league, which recently swung into its 27th season.

Registration and equipment costs, along with limited accessible fields are some of the limiting factors keeping children from playing the sport.

The Jackie Robinson league consists of 21 teams in two divisions, the rookie league and the advanced league. Both leagues average 14 players per team, all of which are looked after by coaches and volunteer staff. 

“We try to be about more than baseball. That’s a big part of it, but our coaches are also mentors for their players,” Warren said. 

Coaches and volunteers go beyond the call of duty in the Jackie Robinson league.

While coaches in most leagues take an interest in the well-being of their players, even becoming someone players can talk to, coaches in Jackie Robinson take an extra step. Warren said that some coaches even feed players who may not have a continuous, reliable source of food at home. 

“It’s been a real joy to watch the kids in this league. That is the most rewarding part,” Warren said. “You watch the kids play and grow up, and you see the coaches taking a real interest in not just the kids on the field, but in their home lives as well.”

The league’s players come from a wide array of racial and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as being co-ed, catering to all whose goal is to improve their skills and enjoy the game of baseball. 

Michael Joyner has been at the head of the league as commissioner for the past six years. He has always had a vested interest in the impacts the league can make on a child’s life. 

“Mr. Joyner is from west Greenville, so he understands what some of those kids are going through,” Warren said. “He has a passion for youth due to his time as a teacher in Pitt County. He has been an invaluable asset to the league. He is able to put himself in the children’s position and see things the way they see it.”

The league also helps children enjoy activities outside of just playing their regularly scheduled games. The league will be taking players to Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, in August to enjoy a professional game. 

The league plays games Monday through Thursday starting at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. The league plays its games at different locations depending on the division. The rookie league plays at the South Greenville Gym on Howell St., while the advanced division plays at Thomas Forman Park on Nash St. 

Contact Jake Keator at 252-329-9594 or jkeator@reflector.com and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.


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