Rick Stillion

Special to the Enterprise

Ball players in the Guernsey County Little League Association may soon have to put on their traveling shoes as changes are coming that include a mandatory county-wide draft and no home games in certain villages.

According to a mandate handed down by Little League Baseball, players will be subject to the draft, practice at fields determined by a coach appointed by the league and play games in Lore City or Senecaville.

The players being drafted will be limited to those playing Major League (ages 11-12) and Minor League (ages 9-10) with coach-pitch and T-ball players not subject to a draft but they will reportedly play games at a central location.

Faced with losing the Little League sanction, the Guernsey County Little League Association Governing Board voted Sunday to accept the rule changes.

"We haven't been following the criteria to be sanctioned by Little League," said President Pat Lowry. "This was brought to my attention as president by our District Administrator Harry Morrison, who was notified by the Little League headquarters." "As a result, we are going to try to do it the way Little League wants us to do it to stay within their guidelines to be an official, sanctioned Little League association," said Lowry.

Four of the six board members at the time of the vote were present.

"The county has not been in compliance with the Little League rules for years," said Morrison. "We are not trying to punish anyone, but this is what we're being forced to do. Right now, my hands are tied."

Under the new guidelines, youths ages 5-12 who wish to participate in a sanctioned summer ball program in Guernsey County (outside Cambridge) need to sign up at a central location.

The first sign up will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Mid-East Career and Technology Centers, Buffalo Campus, on Vocational Road.

At least one additional sign up may be held at a date and location to be determined.

Areas included in the county will be current villages with Little League teams, such as Buffalo, Lore City, Senecaville, Quaker City, Madison, Old Washington and Byesville that participate in the county association as well as Cumberland in southwest Guernsey County.

Once all players have signed up, a sufficient number of coaches will then be appointed by the Guernsey County Association to coach the teams needed to accommodate those players.

"Nobody who coached in the past is guaranteed a spot," said Lowry. "Those decisions will be made with input from the communities."

The coaches will then meet for a county-wide draft with players eligible to be drafted to any team, regardless of the location of the coach or practice facility.

If an insufficient number of players sign up from an area to form a team, those players would have to be placed on other teams based in other parts of the county.

Each coach will have the authority to practice at any field available.

Meanwhile, all Major League games will be played in Lore City with Minor

League games to be played in Senecaville 9 selected as a central location by the county association.

The result would be no Little League baseball games in Quaker City, Madison, Old Washington, Byesville or Buffalo 9 sites of such games a year ago with local teams participating.

According to Morrison, no coach-pitch or T-ball games sanctioned by Little League will be played in these locations either.

Lowry said he hopes the changes and Little League sanction will bring more kids to the ball fields, but he is waiting for the sign ups to determine how many players there will be in the county.

"Which ever way I find puts more kids on the ball fields, will be the way that I go with in the future," he said.

The county association will also establish a concession stand board and field preparation board for overseeing those operations.

Volunteers are needed for the positions of managers, coaches, concession workers and field preparations workers. They should also attend the sign up on Feb. 22 at the vocational school.

Individuals who volunteer to work in the concessions stands and umpires, which will be provided by the county association, could be subject to background checks.

Individuals with questions can call Joey Adamik at 685-2182 or Lowry at (740) 680-7114.