Mission Park league gets a new lease on life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 22, 2010

After years of starts and stops, the Mission Park Baseball League is on a path toward opening day.

The league’s executive director, Earnest Galloway, said 140 children ages 4 through 12 registered to play before the cutoff date on April 9. Although there is still plenty of work to be done, he believes the league will be ready for opening day by the end of May.

“We did real good. Better than I expected,” Galloway said. “We’re shooting for the end of May for the start of the season. We’re going to wait for school to finish out.”

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In the meantime, Galloway, the league’s board of directors and city officials will work to set up the league’s infrastructure. There are no team sponsors — or even teams — yet, and work to prepare James “Fuzzy” Johnson Memorial Park is ongoing.

Johnson Park was renamed in February in honor of the man who worked in the Vicksburg Parks and Recreation Department from 1961-1994. He died Aug. 9, 2009, at age 65. He spent most of his career working with recreational leagues at the park at Mission 66 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Past efforts to start leagues at the park have been thwarted by vandalism and criminal activity in the area.

“We had a meeting with the city (Wednesday) and they said they’re still going to do some more work,” Galloway said. “They’re going to get it where we need it.”

Another crucial step will come in about two weeks, when the board of directors meets with parents of players. Galloway said the purpose of the meeting is to stress the importance of parental and community involvement in the league.

“That’s very important. The kids we went out and recruited, most of them don’t have fathers. We’re going to need men to mentor these kids,” Galloway said. “We’re building a foundation. Anybody’s going to be able to keep it going if we get it started. That’s what they’ve got at Halls Ferry. That’s what makes it a success out there.”

Galloway added that the league was in need of not only team sponsors, but equipment. He said many players don’t have gloves or cleats, and was asking for donations of used gear.

“We’re asking the public if you’ve got a dollar or can sponsor a kid, please help out,” Galloway said.

Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com