Little League controversy heats up in Friendswood

December 30, 2010 5:38:14 PM PST
Dozens of young athletes will have to take swings at joining new leagues. They've been told they can't play for the Friendswood Little League anymore. The league says the decision has to do with where the players live.

There are two sides to this Little League controversy -- one side says kids who don't live in city limits are being pushed out with little notice; the other side says the change is happening so the Friendswood Little League can comply with city ordinance.

Matt Cline's two sons used to play for the Friendswood Little League -- until now.

"I wanted to make sure everybody knew what was going on and it wasn't that we got an email blast saying hey you're not playing here no more," Cline said.

The problem is that the Clines are among 160 Little Leaguers who live just outside of city limits in the Heritage Park subdivision. Even though their mailing address says Friendswood, they're not really in the city.

"We don't vote for city officials. We vote for presidential and county," said Cline.

Even so, the practice field at Renwick Park is just minutes away. But according to the Friendswood Little League, the problem is a city ordinance that requires any primary organization that uses city property to be made up of at least 85 percent city residents, or face the possibility of losing control over the schedule.

The Friendswood club was about 80 percent residents last year. That's not really an issue, says Cline.

"There's no chance that there's another team coming in right now and jockeying for that position," he said.

But in a letter, the president of the Friendswood Little League says, "History has proven to Friendswood Little League that a competing organization can develop literally overnight; so, the notion that not being primary user is not a problem right now is extremely shortsighted."

He goes on to write, "We hope that they will continue to support Little League Baseball and take their talents to their new Little League home."

That new home is the NASA West Little League on the other side of the Gulf Freeway. Cline says the problem is not that his boys won't play, but that they're losing the relationships they've built over the years with very little notice.

"They don't know friends by resident and nonresident," said Cline.

This move will mean a significant expansion for the NASA West Little League. They could grow by as much as 50 percent when it's all said and done. Parents are taking a wait-and-see approach.

You can read more on this story in The Friendswood Journal, one of our Houston Community Newspaper partners.


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