East Carolina Amateur Baseball League
ECABL Commissioner Doug Amerson prepares the field for a Sunday game. The league has made a number of improvements to the field over the past three years.
Survey results discussed by ECABL board
Age divisions, field improvements among top topics
Age divisions, field improvements, umpiring and pitching were largely the topics of discussion at a Sept. 3 meeting of the East Carolina Amateur Baseball League.
The board met to discuss a recent online survey that players were asked to take.
Some survey takers felt the league had gotten considerably younger and that league officials were creating a showcase for young college players. The league is for all adults, ages 18 and older, but the average age of each team is over 30. There are 64 players between the ages of 18 and 29 and 60 players 30 and older. There are six players 60 and older and 29 players 40 and older.
The board also discussed umpiring. As with all leagues from pee wee to professional, the men in blue often are criticized -- sometimes justly and sometimes not. The board discusses umpiring and has a good relationship with the umpiring group that works with the ECABL. Any player issues with umpires should be first discussed with managers. It will be brought to the board and the league will submit a form to the umpire association.
This year the board lowered the minimum pitching age from 30 to 27. Several survey responses mentioned the change as a negative thing, but the majority of responses were positive. The board has no intention of adjusting the age higher or lower in the future.
The survey pointed to issues of mound improvements, lighting improvements and drainage. The board meets regularly and has spent a great deal of time planning and budgeting for improvements. The following are improvements that have been made to Kafer Park over the past three years.
Installed grass in the infield
Built a batting cage for players
Built shed to store field maintenance equipment
Had new light pole and lights installed
Installed netting that extends out over home plate to minimize fall balls reaching the street
Adding a protective layer on top of fence along the first and third baselines
Installed bricks in pitching mound and around home plate for stability and drainage
Bought new hoses so that the entire infield can be watered between games.
The board has been discussing and will continue to discuss improvements. Some improvements currently being considered is:
Tarps for the entire infield. The issue with buying tarps include finances, storage of the tarps, security of the tarps and the responsibility of who will roll it out and roll it up each time it is needed.
Lighting adjustment. The board will work with the city to adjust the lights -- some of which have been naturally adjusted by hurricanes over the past two years.
Improvements to drainage
Additional improvements to the mound and home plate area.
The survey also questioned whether it is time to break the league up into age divisions. The board has discussed this each year and will discuss it again at its annual retreat in November. The board currently believes there are not enough players to support breaking into age divisions. The league consisted of six teams this year, and it is believed there will be more teams next year. The board believes it will likely take 10 teams to support age divisions.
Some players questioned why games are only held on Sundays, and why in the hottest part of the day. Previous surveys showed that Sunday was the preferred day by the majority of players, and because of church, many players could not play earlier than 1 p.m. As for weekday games, the board has considered it and will continue to consider it, but night games will cost more money for the lighting.
The current schedule has each team playing the same number of 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. games.
Players have wondered why the scoreboard is not utilized. The scoreboard is actually fine, but the remote control to operate the scoreboard is broken. The board is in the process of trying to have it repaired, but the long-term solution is probably buying another remote control at $350.
A few players have questioned how talent is dispersed among teams. Last year the board held a draft just prior to the season. All new players went into the draft. The draft will be used to help struggling teams improve.