‘Breathe life back into the game’: Reds Community Fund plans to help Middletown baseball clinic

Organizers are hoping three free baseball clinics will introduce local kids in kindergarten through fifth grade to baseball. Middie Way Baseball will start its league in 2022. There are no feeder programs supporting high school baseball in the city. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Organizers are hoping three free baseball clinics will introduce local kids in kindergarten through fifth grade to baseball. Middie Way Baseball will start its league in 2022. There are no feeder programs supporting high school baseball in the city. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

First of three free baseball clinics scheduled for Sunday at Lefferson Park in Middletown.

With less than one week until the first of three fundamental baseball clinics in Middletown, the momentum appears to be building.

Greg Schwarber, retired Middletown police chief and commissioner of the Middie Way Baseball League, and others associated with the start-up league met last week with Charley Frank, executive director of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund.

Frank said the goal of the baseball camps and league that will offer Rag Ball, T-ball and Coach Pitch in 2022 aligns perfectly with the community fund. He said for baseball to survive and grow, children must be introduced to the game at an early age, then be given the opportunity to play despite their financial hardships.

“Their mission is the same as ours,” Frank said of Middie Way Baseball. “We need to breathe life back into the game.”

Those first breaths will be taken during the three baseball clinics open to kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. The clinics will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 18 and Aug. 15 at the Middletown Baseball Fields at Lefferson Park, then an all-day camp on Sept. 25 when former Middletown High School standout Kyle Schwarber may attend depending on his schedule with the Washington Nationals,

The sessions will be free and refreshments will be served.

“We can’t do it without the right partners,” Frank said of the Reds Community Fund. “With Kyle and the group they have assembled, there is absolutely no reason for us not to work with this group.”

Greg Schwarber said 20 years ago when his son played youth baseball, there were 500 kids at Smith Park. Those baseball diamonds have been bulldozed and turned into soccer fields, and there’s only one diamond at Smith Park.

Lamar Ferrell, pastor of Berahach Church, which is supporting the baseball clinics, said with the assistance from the Reds Community Fund and the Middletown Division of Fire that is donating proceeds from its golf tournament Middie Way Baseball is “really coming together.”

It’s time, he said, for Middletown kids to stay in the city and stop leaving to play baseball in surrounding communities.

“We have to get kids interested in the love of the game,” he said. “Get them out of the house, away from television and electronics and doing something that is active. Playing the pastime that we have forgotten.”


HOW TO HELP

DONATIONS: Middie Way Baseball League is accepting used baseball equipment and monetary donations. Donations can be dropped off at the Middletown Division of Fire Headquarters, 2300 Roosevelt Blvd., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

All donations are tax-deductible and can be made payable to the Compassion City Center, Inc.

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