Think Detroit PAL baseball and softball growing by leaps and bounds
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Inner-city baseball and softball are alive and well in the city of Detroit, thanks to the Think Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL).
PAL has been involved with youth baseball since 1970, while Think Detroit has been involved with both baseball and softball since 1997.
When the two groups merged in 2006, the baseball/softball program expanded to 90 teams involving 1,400 boys and girls. The boys’ baseball program has four divisions: The High School Division (18 and under), 14 and under, 12 and under and 10 and under. The girls softball program has three divisions: High School Division (18 and under), 14 and under and 11 and under. The only divisions that are co-ed are the T-Ball Division (ages 4-6) and the Coach Pitched Division (ages 7-8).
The league is sponsored by DTE Energy, who donated $150,000 for this season. Other sponsors are the Detroit Tigers’ Tiny Tigers Program, who donated $40,000, and Orchard Children Services, who contributed $25,000.
“All the fields are well-maintained,” said Richard Reznik, baseball commissioner. “The majority of our budget involves field maintenance.
“Our umpires are certified league and our coaches have first-aid training and kits on site. Our league is available for any team or kid who wants to play. We not only play all over the city of Detroit, we also play in Hamtramck and Oakland County (Southfield-Lathrup High). Parental support is fantastic.”
The TDP league plays baseball and softball games at Peterson Field (West Outer Drive and Curtis), St. Hedwig (Junction and Konkel), Dobb/Butler Field (Eight Mile and Dequindre), Maheras-Gentry Field, Northwestern High (Grand River near McGraw), Kemeny Center (Fort Street near Schaffer),and Southfield-Lathrup (12 Mile near Southfield Road). Next season, TDP is planning to add Butzel Field (Lyndon near Meyers).
The fee for any boy or girl is $50 per child or $40 with Medicaid. Every kid who registers gets a full uniform, socks, hat and belt. Players must provide their own cleats. The fee for independent teams is $500 per season.
The Division that has grown the most has been the High School Division, which usually has 8-10 teams. This season there were 14 teams.
“We wait to start the high school games until after the high school season ends,” Reznik said. “We’re allowing high school teams, especially from the Detroit PSL, to join our league.”
As a member of the American Amateur Baseball Congress, TDP allows its teams to play in state and national post-season competition. The Detroit Braves (12 and under) competed in the AABC State Regional in Clarkston.
“The winner of the state regional goes to the national districts in Rockford, Illinois,” Reznik said. “The winner there goes to the AABC World Series in San Juan, Puerto Rico.”
Other TDP teams involved in post-season play are the Southwest Tigers (14 and under) and the Southwest Jets (10 and under). The Tigers played in the state regional in Coldwater, while the Jets went to a state regional in Chesterfield Township.
“This gives our kids an incentive to play baseball,” Reznik concluded “We’re hoping to grow even more next year.”
For donations and involvement in the TDP baseball and softball programs, call Richard Reznik at Think Detroit /PAL at 313.833.1600 or mail donations to Think Detroit PAL, 111 W. Willis, Detroit, Michigan 48201.