Baldwin Park Co-Ed Softball League is having a ball

According to its players, the Baldwin Park Co-Ed Softball League is a place for meeting new friends and building community.

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  • | 1:37 p.m. May 2, 2024
Amy Rodriguez, Baldwin Cares chairperson and softball player, poses with her son and Terri Poulos, Baldwin Park Elementary School Parent Teacher Association president.
Amy Rodriguez, Baldwin Cares chairperson and softball player, poses with her son and Terri Poulos, Baldwin Park Elementary School Parent Teacher Association president.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Schreiber
  • Baldwin Park Living
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“Play ball!” are words commonly heard at Blue Jacket Park during the fall and spring. The ball fields are typically surrounded by parents and family members of the ball player, all who enthusiastically cheer on their “little sluggers.” 

It is the norm to see boys and girls lugging baseball equipment and decked out in uniforms touting professional baseball teams. All of this action provides life and energy to the public park situated on the outskirts of fair Baldwin Park.

But now, the Little Leaguers have company. 

Now, it is quite common to see moms, dads, neighbors and business owners swinging bats and giving high-fives. On Sunday afternoons, during the fall and spring, kids are watching their parents engage in friendly games of softball, thanks to two dad-coaches whose daughters played on the same T-Ball team.

After noticing one of the fields was unoccupied week after week, Marcus Moffatt, a real-estate broker who moved to Baldwin Park in 2016, half-heartedly suggested they play softball with the other baseball dads in the community. Playing baseball as a kid was special for him, because of the time he spent with his dad and family. 

Those memories fueled his desire to make it happen. Soon enough, a Baldwin Park co-ed softball team became a serious consideration. 

“I started asking around and realized there was a big need for it," he says. "A lot of people said they would play."

One such person was Moffatt’s co-coach Nick Kikuchi. 

“When Marcus asked me, I told him I would totally play," Kikuchi, who moved to Baldwin Park in December of 2020 with his family, says. 

Kikuchi was on-board to meet other families and find connections through the community. He also was eager to re-connect to the game itself. Having played slow-pitch softball in college and then in local leagues, his days on the diamond came to an end when he became a dad.

In March of 2023, with four teams and 60 players, the Baldwin Park Co-Ed Softball League was born. In addition to recruiting Little League dads, word spread through Baldwin Park Living and the weekly newsletters. 

“It was a fun atmosphere, and people began telling their friends about it,” Kikuchi says.

The next season, the fall of 2023, the league grew. To help support the league, eight sponsors from the local community were established. The sponsors donated team jerseys, provided player representation and, in some cases, hosted social gatherings. 

One such sponsor, Tactical Brewing Company on New Broad Street, opens up the brewery/restaurant for players and their families each Sunday. 

“It was at these hangouts after the games that I truly began to meet people," Meghan Crawford, a customer care manager at an orthopedic company who recently moved to Florida from North Carolina, says. “I moved here by myself for a job and knew no one. After joining the league, all of that changed.”

Bringing the community together was definitely among Moffatt's and Kikuchi's list of goals for the softball league. 

“It is such a great community, and weekly softball encourages us to get outside with our families, friends, and neighbors and get to know one another,” Moffatt says.

Players of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Some players have played baseball or softball in high school or college; some have never played a day in their life. Many of the players, like Crawford, are young professionals, interested in meeting like-minded people and spending time doing something meaningful. Some, like Moffatt and Kikuchi, are raising families on top of working full-time. 

Sundays allow the players to immerse themselves in enjoyable, social and healthy activities, while still spending time with their families. It is quite customary to see large groups of children under the age of 10 at the field. There are always plenty of snacks and usually some fun activity set up to occupy them. 

“My wife set them up with a lemonade stand last season, and they were having a blast selling drinks," Kikuchi says.

With the success of the fall season, the sponsorship increased to 13 community businesses for the spring 2024 season. The league established a Board of Directors to help with the operation and management of the league. The number of players tripled to 200, and the two managers received more and more inquiries from the community. 

“A lot of people heard about us through their friends and want to join their team," Kikuchi says "Some are ‘free-agents’ and just want to play softball. We even have a couple players in their 70s. It is truly for everyone.”

That community connection is something that many adults crave. With the pandemic forcing many away from one another for so long, meaningful conversation and connection have become a vital aspect of living.

Softball and socializing are the majority of what the league does, but that's not all. 

Last spring, the league hosted a Home Run Derby for families and friends of the softball league. 

While players slugged homers over the fence, kids were treated to face-painting, balloon art, skills challenges and many other fun activities. 

In addition to the goal of having fun, the league raised funds for Baldwin Cares, a Parent Teach Association-funded initiative benefiting children of families living below the poverty line at Baldwin Park Elementary School

With nearly $800 raised, the league played a pivotal role in supporting several vital school programs that provide funding for students to participate in field trips, as well as receive wholesome food during school breaks and presents during the winter holidays.

On April 27, the softball league held the second annual Home Run Derby, and, again, all proceeds raised went directly to Baldwin Cares. 

“The Baldwin Park softball league has been an invaluable partner to Baldwin Cares," Amy Rodriguez, chair of Baldwin Cares, as well as member of the league, says. "Their commitment to making a positive impact on our initiatives reflects the true spirit of community. I’m also grateful for the Moffatts and all of their devotion to the community and this league. The opportunity to meet new friends and play softball together is invaluable.”

Giving back to the community is something that is important to the league managers. 

“It is also important for me to model giving back to my kids,” Moffatt says.

Moffatt's daughter finds joy in the hobby of bracelet-making and raised additional funds for Baldwin Cares through displaying and selling her bracelets at the Home Run Derby this year.

This season, with 13 locally-sponsored teams, games are played with a little bit more competitive edge. The focus is still on community-building and having fun but with such a wider pool of players, the league is attracting more former athletes and ball players.

“I played softball up until seventh-grade, then it was basketball and soccer,” Crawford says. “One of the reasons I was interested in joining the league was to revisit my athletic side.”

As the softball league continues to grow and expand, Moffatt and Kikuchi welcome all neighbors to experience the camaraderie and friendly sportsmanship that has become a part of Baldwin Park life in the last year. 

“It’s a league for everyone, and we invite anyone interested to come check us out ... we are at Blue Jacket Park almost all day almost every Sunday," Kikuchi says.

The season is winding down, but not before the playoffs on Sunday, May 19. 

In bracket tournament format, the top six teams will compete for the championship. Playoff day will also include food, festivities and activities for the whole family.

After a summer off, the players look forward to another season in the fall and beyond.

"We are a community organization that plays softball," Moffatt says. “That is the difference between us and other leagues around. We are a group of people who really care about our community and want to enjoy life together.”

The 2023 Home Run Derby players.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Schreiber


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