Baseball and Softball

Former league president trying to resurrect town ball

2013-04-19T22:00:00Z 2013-04-20T01:54:03Z Former league president trying to resurrect town ballJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

SAUK VILLAGE | Build it and they will come.

For now, Ed Sullivan is trying to un-bury it.

"The little kids played on this field ... the major division and softball players played on the middle field," Sullivan said while detailing the linear layout of the Sauk Villiage Sports Association baseball and softball league, "and the older kids played way over there on the east field."

The league's complex is adjacent to Wagoner Elementary School. It doesn't take much to envision the spring and summer activity from years' past as the dilapidated backstops, bleachers, dugouts, fences, concession stand and public restrooms stubbornly remain.

The fields also remain ... somewhere under the weed-growth as the earth is usurping them like it did to the Inca site Machu Picchu.

"No one has played on these fields for eight years," Sullivan said, though it seems much longer.

In the mid-1960s, Sullivan got involved in the Sauk Village Sports Association as a volunteer parent helping coach his son, Kevin, before serving successive terms as the league's president.

"I remember the opening days. We would have a big parade go through town with the fire and police departments participating," Sullivan said. "The mayor would come out and throw the first pitch, and then the first games of the season would begin.

"It brought the community together."

Sullivan took pride in the league, striving to make it viable season after season. But he grew disenchanted with the village's politics and broke ties with the league.

Now he's surveying the wreckage.

"You hate to see something like this happen. It's inexcusable," he said. "How are you going to keep kids off the street when you let something go like this?"

The 72-year-old lifelong resident has decided to attempt the herculean task of resurrecting in-town baseball and softball in Sauk Village.

"Right now, I'm grasping at straws, looking for someone, anyone, willing to help me out," Sullivan said. "I figured the best place to start is with the kids."

On April 10, he paid visits to Wagoner and Strassburg elementary schools to try to drum up interest.

"We would like to shoot for a May 11 opening day, but if not, we could push it back to June," said Sullivan, who said the in-house league will initially cater to ages 7-9, but may include older players if the type of response dictates.

"We would like to get 60 baseball players and 60 softball players," he said. "That would make five teams in each league.

"It's important to just get it started again. If we wait any longer, it might not ever come back."

Sullivan has re-connected with a former colleague at SportStation in Tinley Park who used to help outfit his teams.

"He was wondering where I've been," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he is in the process of procuring assistance from the trustee's office and park department, but he says he needs a lot more manpower to make this happen.

Though he has been planning this relaunch for more than three months, it was no accident that Sullivan's formal proposals at the schools came a day after Sauk Villiage's mayoral election.

"When I found out that (David) Hanks was going to run, that's when I decided to do this," Sullivan said of the long-time trustee and former interim mayor who won the April 9 election.

"Had he lost, I don't know what I would have done," Sullivan said. "I would have probably still went through with it, but with him in there, I feel better about our chances."

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