Positive changes this year in Fuzzy Johnson league

Published 2:50 pm Friday, June 12, 2015

When change brings positive energy into a place that used to be surrounded by negative energy, it becomes a breath of fresh air.

Justin Williams is in his second year as the coordinator for the Fuzzy Johnson baseball league and has made positive changes.

“I orchestrate the schedule, get teams together and search for sponsors,” Williams said. “Along with the mayor and aldermen, we’ve formed a five person board.”

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When the James “Fuzzy” Johnson baseball league started in Vicksburg, only four teams played. The league has expanded to nine teams with age groups from 5- to 8-years old; and 9- to 12-years-old. The league encountered a brief stoppage in play due to lack of participation but remained in season for the past six years.

Williams tries to make things more organized and fair for everybody. He tries to generate parity so things don’t favor one team.

Charles Carter has been an umpire for the league since its inception and said Williams is doing a great job, getting a lot of things done and loves helping kids.

“It’s the only reason to do this kind of stuff,” Carter said. “Just want to keep things going, keep the kids playing and keep them safe. It’s almost like raising a community.”

Carter said this opening day has a different atmosphere and kids just want to play.

Kevin Mahoney, assistant coach for KC Royals, felt good on his first opening day in the league. His team practiced a few times already and said his team has made some really big strides and is proud of their effort. Mahoney set a goal for himself to put his players in a position to win every game and help the players understand baseball as best as he can.

“I expect it to be a popular event and more people show up to watch the games,” Mahoney said.

Williams said the parents are glad a young person has come in to better organize things. On opening day, players were not in uniform, but Williams hopes by the end of next week players will be in uniforms.

“I try to have some kind of fun day at the end of the year for kids,” Williams said. “I try to have a couple of tournaments and have out of town kids to come. We try to give kids more things to do during the summer.”

Sylvia Calvin has a child in the league and notices the positive changes made under Williams’ leadership. Calvin said more kids are participating this year than previous years. Some teams have 14 players, when usually there are 12 players to a team. Calvin was glad to see the committee bring change to the league and appoint new people.

Calvin would like to see more parent participation in the league, and thinks it will encourage more kids. Calvin has also noticed the league become more diverse. She thinks the kids have noticed the positive changes made as well.

Calvin said the only downfall of the league is not starting the league sooner.

“No sooner than when school gets out. That way everything can be in order from uniforms to team rosters,” Calvin said.

Calvin wants to see the league continue to evolve because the kids in the community need it. Having the league prevents kids from getting into trouble.