Baldwin Park now has its own adult softball league.
The co-ed league, which is open to anyone over age 18 no matter the skill level, already has more than 70 people, even though it started only a few months ago.
The league is independent of any neighborhood associations.
Organizer and local resident Marcus Moffatt says he got the idea to start the league. He coaches T-ball and baseball, and noticed nobody else was using the softball field located at Blue Jacket Park.
“I started asking some other dads and coaches in the community if they wanted to play, and it was clear that there was a huge need,” Moffatt says. “Our community (is what inspired him to start the league). Baldwin Park is such a great community. We have almost everything else, but we needed an adult softball league. When I asked around, the energy and excitement to join was very overwhelming. It gave me a real sense of pride in our community.”
Although Moffatt hadn’t played softball in years, he always loved baseball.
Moffatt shared both of his daughters are continuing to play and learn to understand baseball.
“They play baseball, and there are not a lot of girls in baseball,” he says. “I wanted to introduce them to softball and allow them to see more of the game to understand it. I also want them to understand that softball can be intertwined with girls and boys — just like baseball.”
Moffatt says softball is a great sport, because all skill levels can play and be involved — something that is not true of all sports.
“I wanted everyone to be able to play and have fun,” he says. “We have players (who) played competitively in college and we have players (who) just bought their first glove before our first game. It’s really great to be walking in Baldwin Park on a Tuesday and randomly see those players that were just introduced (or reintroduced) to the game practicing for Sunday. People are out there to have fun, but you can see they are competitive and do care. It’s a family community, and I wanted not only a softball player, but their spouse who might have never played want to join in on the fun. The code of conduct is very clear that we are out here to have fun and be neighborly with one another.”
The teams are pretty full for the spring season, with 15 to 17 members per team.
In the fall, Moffatt says he would like to have six to eight teams. He says there is a fine line between having enough people on each team for some to miss each week and having too many on a team. The league is working on finding that balance this spring season.
Moffatt says forming the softball league is not as easy as just meeting on a field. It actually takes a lot of organizing compared to other sports in terms of insurance, liability, renting the field and more.
He says it has been quite a process to secure the field. The league has to rent the field from the city and also pay for insurance each day played. This costs about $125 plus tax per three-hour time slot.
“I am going to sponsor the renting of the field for the first spring season, as we work out the direction of this,” Moffatt says. “I am asking that everyone donate at least $25. This money will be put toward the fall season to keep this going. One hundred percent of these donations will go toward the fall season rental, insurance, balls, etc. This is a donation to keep the league going; it is not mandatory. It’s pretty simple: The more money we collect, the more Sundays we can rent the field for the fall season.”
Moffatt says members should bring their own gloves and any softballs, helmets, bats or equipment in their possession.
MUCH MORE THAN A GAME
Moffatt already has met many great people in the community through the league.
“Our team came together as we are mainly parents of kids that are in the same grades and classes at school,” he says. “All the kids and spouses come to watch and cheer us on each Sunday, so it’s much more than a game. It’s a community we are building. It’s the reason we moved back to Baldwin Park. I wanted this softball league to represent our community and so far it really is.”
Resident Nick Kikuchi says he decided to join the softball league, because he grew up playing baseball. His children have started playing at the North Orlando Kiwanis Little League.
“It has been so fun seeing them play and getting to coach them,” he says. “Marcus, whom I help coach a T-ball team with, brought up the idea of starting an adult softball league, and I thought it was a great idea. I was all-in from the very beginning. As we grew closer to the start, we talked with other people in the neighborhood, and almost everyone I talked with was excited to play.”
He says his favorite part about the league is it brings out neighbors and families for a fun time so they can get to know one another and spend time together.
“It really is a gift to live in a neighborhood where others are so eager to be in a community together,” he says. “It has been so fun to see people from the neighborhood and also to have our families supporting us from the stands. The kids also have a great time playing games in the park and having popsicles while watching.”
In the future, Moffatt says his goal for the league is to continue to grow it in as many ways as possible.
“More people, more teams, more equipment, more sponsors, more games,” he says.
Moffatt says he is encouraging locals to recruit friends or family members to join the teams. In addition, players can choose to be the main contact on the team, as an unofficial coach, or volunteer to help the league with anything else it may need as things unfold.
Finally, Moffatt says he is looking for local businesses that would like to contribute or get involved in the league in any way. Anyone interested can reach out to him directly.