Douglass little league tradition still strong after 60 years on east side

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INDIANAPOLIS - The Douglass little league is one of the oldest in America, celebrating its 60th anniversary in an east side park.

While the Little League World Series plays out in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a handful of parents and volunteers are spending their time and own money to help keep a few dozen kids out of trouble.

"I think it means a lot to them to have the attention," said Nakish Allen as she watched her six-year-old bend down to get a grounder on the infield at Oscar Charleston Park. "To have somebody be there to teach them how to do something other than what's going on maybe in their neighborhood or different things they may see on a daily basis, I think its just very good for them they're probably happy excited."

The league is still signing up youngsters for its fall season which plays on Saturdays and begins in a couple weeks.

"Were just trying to bring the community kids together and get them off the street so we can prevent some of this crime that's happening in our neighborhoods," said Tim Kimbrough, league president. "Its a real hard sell. You're dealing with football, you're dealing with year- round football, year-round basketball and its kinda hurt baseball in the inner city."

Vice President Berry Winston said Douglass Little League attracted 50 boys and girls in 2013, 155 this past summer and signed up 40 during a parade through the neighborhoods near Washington Park on Opening Day this past spring.

"A lot of the kids just need guidance in their life and we do that with the kids," said Winston. Lead them in the right direction so when we get with the kids they appreciate us actually taking the time with them.

"We pretty much mentor the kids on life because its not always about winning on the field. we gotta win the game of life so we teach a lot of that to the kids and they appreciate it and it helps them out."

Republican sheriff's candidate Emmitt Carney, a baseball coach and major league scout, brought former players and other coaches with him to teach a clinic to the Douglass kids.

IMPD Officer Keith Hartman worked up a sweat coaching baseball in the same neighborhood some of his fellow officers patrol.

"I honestly believe that is one of the best things you can do outside with your kid but just spending time with the kids is where it starts," said Hartman. "I think it lifts up the spirits of the neighborhood and if you're in the neighborhood and you're here for the right reasons its one of the best things you can see all week."

Nakish Allen agreed.

"We have people like this coming through," she said. "The church, just people being around, being attentive to our needs and the community's needs and our childrens' needs so hopefully you know that is something that will show them that somebody is watching and somebody's there and people that care."

Douglass little league is not only short of players. It needs gloves and bats and balls and uniforms and all the things it takes to make little leaguers stand tall on the field. If you would like to donate, contact the league at douglasslittleleague@gmail.com.