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Baseball: From Hap Minor to Freddy Sanchez

July 13, 2002

JEFF TULLY

When it comes to watching baseball players run, hit and throw

their way to success, forget about taking in any major league

baseball games this weekend.

Instead, if you want to see players taking part in the sport just

for the fun of it, head to Olive Park this morning. Starting at about

9:30, the best players the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community

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Services Department leagues has to offer will be taking part in the

47th annual Hap Minor Baseball Civitan Day Jamboree.

With a parade that begins at 8:30 at Mervyn's in the Media City

Center Mall, the players will wind their way to Olive Park for an

end-of-the year skills competition. The competition involves

baserunning, hitting and throwing events, and the day is capped with

food, refreshments and a lot of awards.

Following in their counterparts' footsteps, the city's softball

players will hit Olive Park July 20th for their own event. The

athletes will take part in the annual Ponytail Softball Jamboree --

sponsored by the Foothill Civitan Club -- where the players will get

a chance to show their stuff in their own skills competition.

With the Hap Minor leagues, this is baseball at its purest. These

players compete in the Park and Rec leagues for the simple fun of the

game and the joy of just taking part. They are a world away from the

over-paid, coddled, money-hungry athletes who have helped infect

major league baseball.

With these youth players, there are no steroids, no big-money

contracts and you bet there won't be a strike prior to the

festivities.

It's unfortunate these players have such poor baseball role models

and have to follow a professional game that is hemorrhaging badly

from recent problems and scandals.

There is no fun and no redeeming value that can be derived from a

game that threatens to be passed up in popularity by NASCAR (parish

the thought).

But professional baseball has been its own executioner. With

strike threats, players accused of everything from using illegal

substances to being gay, home runs cranked out of parks at a fever

pace, and teams facing extinction because of revenue problems, the

game is in big trouble.

And if that isn't enough, the game suffered another black eye

Tuesday at the 73rd All-Star game at Milwaukee's Miller Park. With

the game between the National and American leagues tied at 7 after 11

innings, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig instructed umpires to end

the contest when both teams ran out of pitchers.

The All-Star contest is supposed to be the sport's mid-summer

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