Youth baseball is alive and well in Jacksonville, as it is most cities in Florida and in the South. Travel baseball continues to grow and the city has some of the top recreation baseball leagues in the state. But lost in the shuffle of it all is that high amount of young people in the area who are not able to play youth baseball. Sometimes it is for financial reasons. Other times it is resources such as travel – ability to get to the park. Others simply haven’t been exposed to the game that has been played on sandlots, open fields and youth league parks for more than a century. They don’t have access. They don’t have equipment. They haven’t been around it. That is why Walk-Off Charities is needed. Formed in 2017, WOC will provide baseball opportunities to ALL young people on the First Coast who are interested. We will do so with providing of equipment, of tutelage and of monies to make it possible for any young person interested in baseball to play it.
WOC will have four major components:
WOC, in conjunction with the Duval County School Board and Bakers Sporting Goods, will hold free clinics throughout the course of the school year in the form of student field trips. Elementary school students will have an opportunity to attend clinics as part of a field trip to be taught, practice and experience baseball. There also will be a variety of other clinics – all free – for area youth.
WOC will have a grants program that attempts to pay enrollment for all needing youth to play on a rec league team in that young person’s area. Any young person who wants to play on a youth baseball team, has identified the association, can apply for a scholarship. WOC approves the need and pays the fee.
WOC originally was formed to renovate the historic Sans Souci Baseball Park on Jacksonville’s Southside. The park has been greatly improved, with rebuilt fields, wind screens, fence caps, scoreboards and a brand new parking lot. Sans Souci will be the site of many of the free clinics. But WOC also plans to have a renovation fund that assists baseball facilities all over the First Coast through and additional grant program.
As hard as it is for many to believe, many young people don’t even have a baseball glove. All young people should have adequate equipment – a glove, a ball, a pair of cleats. WOC will regularly hold drives to collect used baseball equipment to distribute to all youth of the First Coast who would want to have, and would use, baseball equipment, but don’t have it.