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Youth Baseball Canceled in Birmingham, Mayor Woodfin Says City Not to Blame

Birmingham parent Sanquenetta Bailey said her daughter cried when she learned the season had been cancelled. (WBRC-TV screengrab)

By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times

Mayor Randall Woodfin is standing by Birmingham Park and Recreation’s decision to cancel the 2023 youth baseball season.

Last week, Parks and Rec sent an email to parents that read in part, “We as a department have decided to cancel the 2023 Youth baseball season because organizations have not paid the registration fee of $150 per team before the Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 extended deadline”

Parents told WBRC-TV that they were blindsided.

“One word is unfair,” Carlos Rogers, Wenonah Pirates Baseball Coach, told the station. “It’s unfair for the parents. It’s unfair for the community. It’s unfair for the city and most importantly, it’s unfair for the kids.”

Rogers and another coach Clarence Harris said they were surprised to hear about the news on Thursday when they showed up for a baseball game. “Nobody from Birmingham said nothing or contacted me,” said Harris.

However, Woodfin, in a Facebook post on Sunday, said his office was told coaches did not provide paperwork to the park department.

“The first deadline to turn in paperwork was April 19th, second deadline to turn in paperwork was April 30th and last deadline to turn in paperwork was Wednesday May 3rd. This group never responded or turned in necessary paperwork,” the mayor wrote.

Though the original Park and Recreation department email announcing the season’s cancellation said the reason was that some organizations had not paid the $150 fee for registration, Woodfin also said money was not the cause for cancellation. Waivers for the registration fees exist.

“The park board’s ‘assertion’ is that the minimum requirement for participation in sports is that teams provide paperwork,” according to the mayor.

Parents say canceling the season leaves their kids without a positive outlet and too much free time.

“My baby woke up this morning thinking she had a game but she didn’t,” Sanquenetta Bailey told WBRC. “It’s like when I tell her she don’t have practice or a game, she [cries] and gets mad about it because she loves the sport now.”

“It’s more than about this city,” said Rogers, the baseball coach. “It’s about the future of this city and it starts with the youth… Nothing wrong with a kid waking up thinking, ‘I’m going to hit some home runs today.’ We’re just here to save baseball.”