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Warren Park Youth Baseball Finds Comfort Being A Safe Space For Kids

By Evan F. Moore | July 11, 2016 2:25pm
 Near South All-Stars played Jackie Robinson West on Sunday.
Near South All-Stars played Jackie Robinson West on Sunday.
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DNAinfo/Evan F. Moore

WEST RIDGE — Warren Park Youth Baseball wants to reaffirm the sport's place in the city by creating safe spaces for children to play.

Since last week, Warren Park has been the host for the 12U (Majors) Little League tournament. 

Rob Miller, the director for Warren Park Youth Baseball, said baseball during the summer months keeps kids occupied and out of trouble. 

"That's why I'm here. This program provides a safe space and a place children want to be," Miller said. "This a positive experience and gives kids something to do for the summer. Also, it makes the kids feel good."

Alicia Matthews' sons, Elijah and Ethan, play for the Near South All-Stars. She echoes Miller's sentiments about sports and safe spaces.

"I'm from a small town in Ohio, so I know how important sports can be in terms of community building," Matthews said. "You do hear about the lack safe spaces and the lack of green spaces here in Chicago. It's good to have parents come out and say, look, this is how you reclaim communities."

Matthews, a Bronzeville resident, said having games like the ones in Warren Park is a good start. 

"This is how we rebuild things that has been taken away through violence and through neglect in certain communities," Matthews said. "We're here to say that we are invested in our children and we are invested in our communities."

Ron Crenshaw, an administrator with Auburn Gresham's Foster Park, brought his son Andrew to Warren Park to cheer on some of his league's teammates Sunday.

"I grew up with baseball. It was rooted in my community, so I wanted my son to experience that," Crenshaw said. "It's a good thing that they can still see the camaraderie of playing on a team. They can learn life in general from sports. Any chance I get, I try to put my kid in a situation where he can learn and have fun."

Miller told DNAinfo that he gets a lot of positive feedback from the parents of the players, along community members who come out to see the kids play.

"They are happy to be here and being a part of a great experience," Miller said. "The kids are focused on baseball and it keeps them happy and positive."

The District 12 championship game will take place Monday at Warren Park at 5:30 p.m., when Warren Park takes on Jackie Robinson West. 

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