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Front Page » July 8, 2008 » Carbon Sports » Sports View
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Sports View

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Sun Advocate guest writer

What became of Western Boys Baseball Association (WBBA)? This is a question being asked many times locally as this youth baseball program is non existent in Carbon County or Green River.

Actually WBBA is in a state of limbo right now with problems of poor communication and a dearth of volunteer help in some regions. A little history on the program is in order, particularly as it applies to Carbon County.

Little league baseball started in Carbon County in 1952. Two leagues were organized, one in Helper and the other in Price. They were affiliated with national Little League Baseball Inc. It wasn't long until Wellington, Sunnyside and Green River organized leagues. The local leagues continued affiliation with Little League Baseball Inc. until 1956. By that time Little League Inc. began worldwide expansion and Utah leagues, Carbon included, felt like the organization was just too big and all-star tournament competition for the small towns was out of the question.

During the spring of 1956 a group of gentlemen from Southern California, Utah and Idaho came up with the idea of WBBA. With the support of the Salt Lake Tribune under a sports writer, the late Bill Coltrin, the idea took quick hold in Utah. The principle of the organization was to provide a youth baseball program for boys of age 12 and under in which most of the participants were playing baseball most of the summer and the post-league tournament competition limited two or three weeks. WBBA was designed for the small towns and neighborhoods of the larger cities to keep a level playing field. Leagues were to limited to four teams, no more than 80 participants to a league and areas exceeding these limits were to organize more leagues in the cities or towns.

Through the years WBBA thrived, leagues existed in Southern California, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, even one in British Columbia, Canada. Post season all-star competition took place locally with qualifying teams moving on to what became known as the "Little World Series of WBBA. The final tournament rotated between Santa Monica, Calif., Idaho Falls, Idaho, Jackson, Wyo. and various sites in Utah. Price hosted this tournament twice and Helper once.

Service in WBBA is strictly volunteer, there never were any paid personnel in WBBA. There was never any entrance fees required of teams participating in local tournaments or teams qualifying for the "Little World Series of WBBA". In fact teams were reimbursed for travel expenses depending on length of travel and funds available for this final tournament.

As the years went by pressure began to come to the WBBA board of directors for expanded post-league play and the allowance of selecting one all-star team from a six-team league rather than four. If a league consisted of more than six teams, two all-stars had to be selected, the teams from which the all-star players were to selected from had to be designated prior the the first game of the season.

This was a move to preserve the equity of the all-star teams. Very few leagues followed this rule, but opt to keep their league complement to six or five teams. An example in Price where one league of five teams was formed from what had been three leagues in the city at one time. In all fairness to Price's Carbon league, they were very well in conformance with WBBA rules, but it destroyed the equity with teams from Sunnyside, Helper, Wellington and Green River.

Pressure continued to come to the Board of Directors for expanded post-league all-star play. The final tournament was expanded to 12 teams from the previous eight and double elimination format for all tournament meets brought about an earlier starting date for post-season all-star play. Whereas leagues at one time were still playing league games well into the middle of July, now the league schedule was being compressed into a quick five or six week schedule ending in mid-June. The all-star teams were selected then and for those youngsters not making the all-star team, their baseball season ended and it was not even summer yet.

For many of the volunteers in the WBBA program this trend did not set well and the organization suffered when they dropped out. They did not see any sense in having these young diamond enthusiasts out playing on cold April days and seeing their season terminated in mid-June if they were not skilled enough to make the all-star team. As a result with less and less volunteers committed to WBBA, communication within the organization broke down. Another blow to WBBA came in the untimely death in 2007 of association president Bob Fieldsted in the Uintah Basin. Bob was well known and respected in Carbon County as he worked with local volunteers.

It should be noted that the name Western Boys Baseball Association was officially changed several years ago to Western Baseball Association (still WBBA) in recognition of the many excellent girls playing in the organization.

In an attempt to hold things together the city of Morgan has consented to stage a "Little World Series of WBBA" in their city the final week of July. There has not been any formal registration of teams this year, but Altamont, Tabiona, Duchesne and Roosevelt have been playing under WBBA rules this year. One or two of them plan to participate in Morgan, but all of that is tentative at this date. Any local teams in Carbon interested in entering a tournament at Morgan should contact this writer.

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