Ball League Old as Dirt Central District Celebrates 30 Years of Play on the Diamond

Article excerpt

Byline: Jen LaPorte Daily Herald Staff Writer

The Central District Baseball League is nearly as old as the dirt that young participants ages 5-17 play ball on. In its 30-plus years of existence, the league has undergone continual progress and growth that has made it one of the larger organizations of its kind.

When the CDBL first started, Plato Center, Lily Lake, Burlington and far West Elgin each had a single team for kids ages 9-12. These community teams played one another, and in time grew to offer a minor and major league team for each community. Plato Township funded the league.

Today, the league has grown to over 450 participants, including nine tee-ball teams, eight Pinto teams, eight Mustang teams, five Bronco teams, three Pony teams and two Colt teams. In addition, the CDBL has added a 10-year-old travel team, 12-year-old travel team and a 14-year-old Babe Ruth League team.

According to CDBL President Ed Zasada, this is what makes the league amazing, and this is why it only gets bigger and better.

"The most surprising and pleasant thing about this league is the support and involvement of the community," Zasada said. "As president, it is amazing to see how the league brings the community together, and to see how the community has come together for the league.

As far back as 30 years, the leagues united forming what is now known as the Central District Baseball League, as each of the teams and players hail from within the Central School District 301.

Teams would play games at one of three locations: Lily Lake, Plato Center and Burlington. A concession stand was available, and was always run by volunteer mothers.

Parents, of course, are the cornerstone of the teams and the league. They not only make sure their kids can participate, they help keep the league going.

Karen Warner is the Central District Baseball League secretary/publicist. She's also a mom who believes the league gives something to her children.

"This is a great way for all the kids to have fun and get to know one another," she said. "I have boys who play in the league. They meet so many kids which is great because when they get to middle school, they all know each other through the league."

That's true today just as it was when the league was building. As far back as the 1980s, there were three Pinto teams, four Mustang teams and four Bronco teams. The league began to play with Hampshire teams and at this time also expanded. The league introduced tee-ball (ages 5 and 6) and Colt (ages 15-17) level teams.

With these additions came the renovation of Lily Lake's fields. The fields were improved, equipment was procured and an equipment shed was added.

During the 1990s, the league built a new concession stand at Plato Center. Games were played primarily at Plato Center and Burlington. Score boards entered the picture, and community efforts produced significant increases in sponsorship. …