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PSL Baseball: More players come with better fields

King Coach says league needs better facilities

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Why do most boys entering Detroit’s high schools prefer basketball and football over baseball?  Norman Taylor, head baseball coach for Martin Luther King High explains.

“The DPSL and baseball are unusual in the metro area,” Taylor said in a recent phone interview. “Baseball isn’t presented in a normal way.

“The way the game is presented is like its second class. Football and basketball are presented in a positive way because of the facilities these games are played on. Most football teams play on good turf or grass with stands, press boxes, scoreboard and lights. Basketball facilities are superb with well kept floors, stands, scoreboards, lighted gyms and clean locker rooms,” Taylor said.

“Baseball, on the other hand, is presented in an inferior way. Most outfields at schools are full of weeds and have gravel in the infields. Some kids who play in youth leagues, like Think Detroit PAL, Rosedale-Grandmont, and Healthy Kidz, aren’t encouraged to play baseball when they see the condition of the field at our high schools. Most kids stop playing baseball because of the inferior conditions.”

Taylor isn’t a newcomer to city high school baseball. Coaching in the PSL since 1992, Taylor has been coaching at King for 11 years. His team has made the PSL finals the last two years, only to come up short against Western both times.

Taylor explained that some of the community can focus on monitoring the ball field in their neighborhoods so kids can play on them.

“An example of a well-managed field is the one in the Woodbridge area for 12-and-under ball players,” Taylor said. “It’s an excellent, well-kept field for the kids to play on.”

He also explained that some teams in the PSL don’t have home fields and have to travel. In fact, he said his King baseball team can’t practice or play on their field at King because it was poorly designed.

“Some teams, like Cass Tech, don’t have a home field,” he said. “In fact, we have a field we can’t even use because the dimensions are all wrong. We have to go to Manz Playfield on Conner and Mack to hold our practices during the season.”

Taylor says when his team travelled to North Farmington this past season, his players were in awe when they saw the condition of the field.

“The dugouts were enclosed, the infield was well manicured, the outfield was cut without any weeds, and there was a press box with an operating scoreboard,” he said. “The league must find some funding for maintenance and upkeep. We need to have better places for our kids to play.”

Taylor also explained that the lack of indoor facilities in the city is a problem.  A well-known facility, Doc’s Baseball Clinic on the Detroit’s East Side, has been closed for years. The other indoor batting facility is at Cass Tech.

The “inferior” conditions, Taylor says, puts pressure on both the student athletes and the coaches to build good baseball teams.

“This puts kids of the PSL at a disadvantage against kids of suburban, private and Catholic schools.”

 

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