Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photography provided by Noblesville Babe Ruth Baseball
Brandon Bennett can still recall suiting up and taking the field during his time in Noblesville’s Babe Ruth baseball league as a kid in the late 1980s. It was during those seasons that Bennett forged enriching relationships with coaches and teammates, learning the importance of teamwork and dedication to a common goal along the way.
“It was one of my favorite sports experiences, and I had some influential coaches,” says Bennett, director of Noblesville’s Parks and Recreation Department. “In my career and life today, I still think about what I learned while playing in the league and still use those lessons.”
The local Babe Ruth league – part of a national non-profit organization founded in 1951 and named, of course, after legendary Major League slugger George Herman “Babe” Ruth – has been providing Noblesville kids aged 13 through 18 with a competitive baseball outlet for more than five decades. The league’s board president, Mike Wasik, says attendance and volunteerism has declined in recent years, but league officials remain dedicated to providing a premier sports experience for Noblesville families.
“Babe Ruth Baseball has such a great history here locally, and at one point over the years the league even threw an annual spring cotillion dance for a while,” Wasik says. “I grew up in Carmel and played baseball until I was 12, and we didn’t have a league after the age of 13. So, reflecting on my personal experience I can see how important it is for kids to have a league going into their teen years.”
With spring and fall leagues divided up by age into 13-14, 13-15, and 16-18 categories, Wasik says Babe Ruth Baseball fills a niche for kids who are entering their teenage years and interested in local, competitive baseball.
“When kids around here get past age 12, if they don’t start playing travel ball they have no place else to play,” Wasik says. “We are the alternative. It’s good competition for the kids, and we play a 16 to 20-game schedule. It’s also low cost – we don’t have the expenses of the travel leagues.”
Bennett says on average, 70 percent of U.S. kids quit competitive sports by the age of 13, and he feels the rise in travel baseball leagues over the past 10 to 20 years has also contributed to Noblesville Babe Ruth Baseball’s current struggle to keep participation and volunteer numbers up.
“When I was a kid, we would rake the field and get everything ready with the families, so we had some sweat equity in it,” Bennett says. “You don’t see that as much anymore.”
Wasik, who serves as a Babe Ruth Baseball state commissioner in addition to being board president for the Noblesville league, says families and individuals interested in enrolling their kids or volunteering are encouraged to reach out to members of the league board with questions or to gather information on registration requirements and timelines.
“The 12-to-18 age group is maybe the hardest group to reach, and who knows what some kids at those ages would be doing if they didn’t have a place to go play ball and have fun,” Bennett adds. “So, it offers a lot more than just teaching kids how to hit and throw. From a Parks and Recreation perspective, the league represents everything that we think is important with youth sports, and that is the fact that every kid has a chance to play. To us, that’s what is important.”
For more details on Noblesville Babe Ruth Baseball, including registration info and a donation page, call 317-219-6510 or visit noblesvillebaberuthbaseball.com.