Bloomfield Little League to celebrate anniversary

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

BLOOMFIELD ---- In 1955, the Cleveland Browns were NFL champions, the Syracuse Nationals bested the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven games and the Brooklyn Dodgers made history by winning their first and only World Series over the Yankees.

There was history being made in Greene County that year as well, and five decades later that history is being celebrated.

The Bloomfield Little League is about to finish its 50th season of baseball action this year, an event punctuated by the fact that Bloomfield will also be hosting one pool of the 2005 Indiana District 4 Little League Tournament for the 11-12 year old division (July 5th through the 7th) and 9 and 10 age divisions from July 11th through the 13th.

Bloomfield Little League president Doug Bowlen said that the process of securing the tournament for Bloomfield began about a year ago.

"Basically, we had to meet the league's requirements," Bowlen explained. "We were at the district tournament last year, and I was talking to the district administrator about having the tournament at Bloomfield, because parents were getting tired of all the travel."

In order to have the tournament in Bloomfield, the league administration stipulated that Bowlen and company would have to provide a field with a grass infield and railing on the bleachers.

"He said that's what we needed, and I told him, 'You give us this tournament, and you'll have it,'" Bowlen said.

The process of adapting the field to the required specifications began earlier this year, with several volunteers helping with the planting of sod as well as extensive work on the field's bleachers.

According to Bowlen, those volunteers deserve a heap of the credit for having turned the field at Bloomfield's Northside Diamonds on County Road 140.

"We've got a lot of people who stepped up to the plate to help out, because we had a lot of areas to cover," Bowlen explained. "We needed announcers, official scorekeepers, all of that."

In recent years, the league has enjoyed a great deal of success and tough competition, but Bowlen explained that as recently as four years ago, the league was far from prosperous.

Bowlen, now in his third year as the league's president, said that the league was virtually a mess just a few years ago.

One of Bowlen's pet peeves about the game, kids throwing helmets in disgust, was just one example of unsportsmanlike conduct running rampant in the league, a situation Bowlen desperately wanted to turn around.

"It seemed to be baby-sitting club, and the kids weren't being taught fundamentals, and I just didn't see it happening," Bowlen explained. "You can have competition, and you can have good sportsmanship on the same line, and we didn't have either then."

Prior to 2003, the league was plagued by a host of games that were decided by the 10-run rule, which Bowlen saw as damaging to competition within the league, which is another aspect of the game that Bowlen wanted to change.

"This season, the league came down to only three 10-run rule games," Bowlen noted. "We had a lot of close games. The first- and second-place teams were tied at the end of the year, and they broke the tie in a game that was 6-3 or 6-4.

"The competition was there, but it was a fun year for the boys, too."

In addition to growth in intangible areas like sportsmanship and competitiveness, the league has grown in sheer size, as well. The Bloomfield Little League has seen an increase in the total number of players for three consecutive seasons.

In 2002, 125 kids took the field. The next year that number grew by 15, and another 10 boys started playing in 2004 to bring the number up to 160.

This season, the league has grown yet again, fielding 168 boys.

The Bloomfield Little League has endured and grown over its 50 year history, and Bowlen thinks that the league is ready for another 50 years.

"We've just kept on growing up, and we hope to keep growing."

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