OMS to establish baseball program to fill gap left by Babe Ruth

Feb. 14—OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa Community School District is moving forward with establishing a middle school baseball program to fill a gap for underserved boys aged 12-15.

The decision came at the Oskaloosa Board of Education's regular meeting Tuesday night. The board heard from Activities Director Ryan Parker and Bill Almond, long-time coach of the Babe Ruth baseball program in the Oskaloosa community, about a gap in baseball opportunities for middle school-aged boys after the popular Babe Ruth program announced it would not have its summer season this year.

"We were approached that Babe Ruth would not have their season this summer, which left a gap of baseball that previously was there," Parker said. "I think that's a key thing: that was something that kids had previously for 12-year-olds to 14-year-olds."

Parker responded to the news by reaching out to OCSD administration to explore options for creating a middle school program to provide baseball opportunities for that age group. A survey was sent to parents of eligible boys. They received 37 responses. A total of 29 respondents answered "yes," they would be interested, five answered "maybe" and three answered "no."

"That 29 'yes' tells me that there's something needed here," Parker said.

Parker is hopeful the program could get rolling as soon as this summer, but admits the district is "way behind" on the process. His goal is that the program could participate in somewhere between six to ten doubleheaders this summer. Scheduling the games this late, however, would be a challenge.

The projected start would be some time in June. The program would not be sanctioned, but would adhere to ninth grade baseball rules.

"The reason we never did it before ... I didn't want to step on Babe Ruth's feet. It was established in this community for 30-plus years. That's just not something I was willing to do at that time. And now there's a gap. We need to jump on and go," Parker said.

The cost of the program is expected to be less than $5,000, as the district already owns most of the goods required.

In other news:

— The board recognized Business Manager and Board Secretary Chad Vink for 18 years of service to the district.

Channing Rucks can be reached at