New baseball league gives everyone a chance at bat
Beacon Hill Family Fun League features no fees, no forms
Two former coaches say little league baseball has an accessibility problem, which inspired them to start their own league.
The Beacon Hill Family Fun League is free pickup baseball that focuses on the love of the game, while putting aside any financial or logistical roadblocks.
There are no forms, no fees, and children will be provided the necessary equipment when they take the field at Eastvale Park each Saturday during September.
"We've been pining for those days when kids would just go out and grab a bat or a ball or a basketball or a football or play shinny, any of that," Matt Kletke, co-founder of the fun league, told CBC Radio's All In A Day.
"We are really trying to remove the red tape, I guess, from that experience and give people the chance to enjoy sport, enjoy each other and enjoy the outdoors."
Play, don't pay
The league's other co-founder, John McKay, said the idea for a barrier-free league came to him when his little league players went to bat against the Miracle League of Ottawa — a team for baseball players living and playing with disabilities.
"The kids all just started playing, there was nothing around it, they were not even really keeping score that much, they were just hitting the ball, throwing the ball and having fun," he said.
"That moment, free of all that stuff, the competitive league structure, all of that, to me spoke volumes about what baseball or sports in general can be."
Mainstream little league teams in Ottawa are "99 per cent" boys, according to McKay, but that doesn't jibe with crowds in the stands to watch the Ottawa Champions or Toronto Blue Jays.
The fun league aims to change that.
"We're just going to have people come out and play baseball ... people from all different cultures, males, females, anybody," McKay said.
What to expect Saturday
There will be some organization during the Saturday games, but flexibility will be key, both coaches said. People of all ages can play together.
"Some of the best things about sports is getting a group of people together and just enjoying the physical activity and a sense of community," Kletke said.
There will also be a barbecue at the game, which will raise funds for the Miracle League of Ottawa.
The game will start this Saturday at noon.
CBC Radio's All In A Day