Tracy Babe Ruth opened its 2014 youth baseball season on Saturday at the Tracy Sports Complex with the usual traditions.
“Papa” Joe Saenz, a 38-year coach and board member, threw out the first pitch, and Poet Christian School sixth-grader Grace Ann Gregorio sang the national anthem.
The league also honored its 9-and-under All Stars from 2013, a team that became the Central California Cal Ripken state champions and represented Tracy at the Cal Ripken Baseball Pacific Southwest regional tournament.
Even with these traditions in place, the 425-player league is going into its second year of transition.
Last year, the league had to scramble for space when it lost fields at Monte Vista Middle School, making way for Tracy High’s new varsity and junior varsity baseball diamonds.
Tracy Babe Ruth President Troy Camacho said that renting fields from the Tracy Parks and Community Services Department went more smoothly this year.
“The city redid how they allocated fields this year,” Camacho said. “I gave them a lot of heavy comments last year about taking into account the size of the organization. This year, we pretty much got all of the fields we needed. I was able to actually give some back to the city so they could use them for other teams and other programs.”
Meanwhile, the league continues to look for money — up to $250,000, or about $50,000 to build each of Babe Ruth’s five diamonds at Legacy Fields, a 166-acre sports complex along Tracy Boulevard just north of city limits.
The city of Tracy formally dedicated Legacy Fields in April after spending $11.8 million to put in the roads and utilities for the park, which will also be the home of Tracy Little League, Tracy Youth Soccer League and Tracy Futbol Club. The leagues have yet to start work on their fields.
“Right now, it’s tough to try to raise money,” Camacho said. “Hopefully a couple things will come through and we can start soon.”
Paul Zwicky, the president of Tracy Little League, said in an email message last month that the league planned to start work once the 2014 youth baseball season wrapped up this summer. That will be about the time when Jefferson School, longtime home of Tracy Little League, starts rebuilding its campus at Linne and Chrisman roads.
Tracy Public Works Department Superintendent Don Scholl said he hoped some of Legacy Fields would be ready by this time next year. He’s working with the leagues to get their construction plans ready.
“Tracy Little League and Tracy Babe Ruth are probably further ahead (than the soccer leagues),” Scholl said.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.