It’s baseball season and, as spring approaches, the sharp sound of balls rocketing off wood or metal bats and the unique “pop” of balls being gloved on a nearby “Field of Dreams” lures viewers to take seats in bleachers and stare through chain link fences, intently savoring every pitch.
Whether it’s 4-year-old preschoolers hitting off a batting tee, high school varsity players with major league-speed fastballs or an NCAA college program, there is a level of baseball to satisfy everyone in the Point Loma/Ocean Beach communities who enjoys the game when played in its purest form.
There is one common benefit all programs share: admission is free.
In youth programs, the players are getting younger.
Kids are now introduced to the sport at the tender age of 4. These pre-school divisions are known as “T-Ball” at Peninsula Little League (PLL) and “Bam Bam” at Point Loma Little League (PLLL), which combine to serve area youth.
Parents, many with infants in strollers, cheer on their young players attempting to hit from a tee, as youngsters field and throw the regulation baseballs. But many parents laugh heartily as small bodies and the baseball fly in no particular pattern all over the grass field. No scores or outs are recorded and there are no umpires.
The most skilled Little League players play in the “Majors” division, which covers ages 10-12. The “Minors” division at PLL (ages 9-11) is broken down into “National League” (ages 7-9) and “American League” (ages 9-11) at PLLL. All 12-year-olds at both leagues play in the “Majors” division.
Also offered at PLL is a four-team “Juniors” division for ages 13-15 and a “Seniors” league (ages 14-16). A “Big League” team (ages 16-18) begins play after the high school season, competing against teams from around the county.
The most special Peninsula baseball program is the heart-touching Challenger Division program for young people with physical and mental disabilities previously prevented from playing organized sports. Begun nationwide in 1989 by Little League Baseball officials, leaders at PLL began a local Challenger program in 2010. Open to ages 5-23 (or completion of high school), games are played at 9 a.m. on Saturdays.
Several rule modifications help create the expressions of joy and ecstasy seen on the faces of Challenger players.
The only other Challenger Division teams in San Diego County are in Mira Mesa, Rancho Penasquitos, Scripps Ranch and University City.
Pont Loma High School (PLHS) fields three teams in baseball. Jesse Nunez has taken the reins of the Pointer program after a previous stint at The Rock Academy. Eyebrows were raised throughout the baseball world with the hiring of former major league baseball star (and PLHS alum) David Wells as pitching coach.
Competing in CIF Div. II and the Western League, the varsity and junior varsity Pointer baseball teams play at David Wells Field on the grounds of Dana Middle School. The freshman team, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) program, plays at Correia Middle School.
PLNU SEA LIONS
Finally, the collegiate game on the Peninsula is represented by Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU). The Sea Lions have played in the Golden State Athletic Conference (NAIA Div. I). However, a long-awaited jump will soon take place, elevating Sea Lions teams to the PacWest League, an NCAA Div. II conference (www.thepacwest.com).
The Sea Lions’ Carroll B. Land Field on the PLNU campus overlooking the ocean claims the title of “America’s Most Scenic Ballpark.”
PLNU freshman outfielder Sergio Guerra played at PLHS last year.
LOCAL BASEBALL BITS Peninsula Little League
Season: Feb. 25 to June 9
President: Brian Burgess
Field: Bill Cleator Park, 2314 Famosa Blvd.
Point Loma Little League
Season: March 3 to June 10
President: Bruce Ambagtsheer
Field: Optimist Field, 1049 Catalina Blvd.
Point Loma High School
Season: Feb. 28 to May 16 + CIF Playoffs
Head coach: Jesse Nunez
Field: varsity and JV: David Wells Field at
Dana Middle School, 1775 Chatsworth Blvd.
Freshman AAU team: Correia Middle School,
4302 Valeta St.
Point Loma Nazarene University
Season: Jan. 23 to May 4 + GSAC and
Head coach: Joe Schaefer
Field: Carroll B. Land Field, 3900 Lomaland Dr.