Of the Baker City Herald

Baker County boys and girls ages 5 to 15 will soon have the opportunity to sign up for another season of baseball, t-ball and softball under the supervision of the Baker Little League.

League president Julie Paxton said the sign-up would be scheduled in late February. More than 650 children are expected to sign-up for league play this year and will take part in 405 games total in all divisions in May and June.

We have 15 elected officers in the league, Paxton said, which includes Halfway and North Powder teams. There are 43 teams and each team requires a minimum of two adult coaches in order to operate.

Paxton said it was the adult volunteers who really make the league work.

We provide umpires for all major/minor games in Little League, Babe Ruth and softball, she said. We use all volunteers for the spring and fall clean-ups and grounds and field preparations. We need volunteers to organize the opening season parade, equipment managers, safety officers, in publicity and other positions. Its the only way the league works.

Paxton is in her third year as president of the league and she really knows what she is talking about. She said she spends every single day on the field, weekends and holidays included, from the first of April through the end of the season in June. In addition, her husband, Wayne, is a volunteer umpire and her children in high school help out in the concession stand.

We (the league) operate the concession stand at Wade Williams Field its our main league-wide fund raiser every day, Monday through Saturday from the first weekend in May through June 30th, she said.

The stand requires at least 4-6 adults for two-hour shifts (two games each week night and all day on Saturday). This works out to 38 week nights and seven Saturdays or 624 volunteers for the concession stand alone, Paxton noted.

Parents of the team players are asked to contribute at least two shifts each season to support their children in Little League. Paxton encourages parents to sign up for shifts early and to make sure they keep their commitments. Having fewer than four adults in the stand is very hard on the other workers and nobody likes to pull a second shift because another parent fails to report for work.

Parents coming in at the first year at t-ball level dont know how important it is for them to volunteer their time and what kinds of opportunities are available, Paxton added.

Because most of the work is in the evenings and on weekends, the Im too busy excuse doesnt work. And if they really cant work then, we have other volunteer jobs that need to be done throughout the year, she added.

Paxton said the local league doesnt charge the fees other league players throughout the state have come to expect.

Because of this, we need to have the parents step-in and do the work in order to keep the fees down.

Team sponsors donate $200 a year for farm and t-ball teams, $250 for minors and $350 for Babe Ruth, majors and junior and senior softball teams. The children are only charged $25 each to play.

Paxton credits the many volunteers who work so hard to keep the league running. She named a few of them, like Tom Bunch, Dave Banta, Mike Baker, and Joyce and Dale Curtis, who all volunteer hundreds of hours every year to keep the league in good working order.

Paxton said new volunteers, especially those with children intending to play this season in the league, are welcome and needed. Anyone who can donate man/woman power, would like to donate equipment, or would like to be a team sponsor can call her at 523-3468 or 523-9229.

There is an answering machine for calls to these two lines and callers are asked to leave a brief message and telephone number and she will return the call. Paxton can also be reached by email at .