Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Local Children Still Interested in Baseball Despite Phillies

How do you keep children interested in things?

Obviously, when we are kids, the world is a flashy, abrupt place filled with dinosaurs and LEGO.  Any kid is going to have a hard time staying focused.  Sure, there’s a math problem on the chalk board.  But what about that spacecopter we built last night that was fighting the pterodactyl? And then the pterodactyl exploded and the spacecopter was doing a few victory laps but then somebody dropped it and part of the propeller snapped off and they couldn’t re-attach it right even after like two hours?

What?

The point is, kids can be a hard group to keep focused.  And especially for those who don’t have the allure of mid-90s Phillies baseball to entice them, baseball may be the last thing on their minds.

Sure, kids in eastern PA are bred to be Phillies fans from their first piercing shriek.  But that’s one of the shocking ripple effects of the past year’s .500 squad:  kids find them less good.

And have you seen the kind of LEGO sets they’re putting out these days? Capitalizing on the success of Harry Potter or Star Wars, LEGO has created collections based on Harry Potter or Star Wars.  They even have soccer LEGOs now.

Soccer.

So unless we want today’s kids learning how to build things and think creatively,  we need to keep the Phillies cool.  But the Phillies’ definition of ‘cool’ is signing Michael Young to play third base.  So they’re out.  Just like Young will be a lot this year.

Fortunately, we have the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for that.  The Phils’ triple-A squad joined forces with an Allentown-area businessman to keep children interested in the game.  How did they do it?  With the same thing that makes professional sports to you and me:  sweet, sweet cash that warm sense of childhood nostalgia.

Lee Butz, of Alvin H. Butz, Inc., runs a program called “Allentown Drive,” that’s designed to get inner city youth to play baseball.  He went to the IronPigs looking for a grant, after starting the charity in 2010, and the team was–as they are about anything they take on–super excited to hand over $10,000.

Combined with the money from other sources, a four-team middle school league will operate this summer, keeping LEGO out of our children’s hands kids playing the game of baseball.  It’s the first league of its kind in the area in many, many years.

So once again, the Phillies, or one of their friends disguised as them, save the day.  If only they’d put as much effort into making the 2012 playoffs as their minor league club did in trying to save baseball for local children.  But that’s a story for another time, and possibly one that won’t be told.  Because it’s terrible.

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Tags: Children Lehigh Valley IronPigs Philadelphia Phillies

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