Hundreds of Southbelt little leaguers cry foul after their summer schedule was cut short

Nick Natario Image
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Parents upset over sudden end of Southbelt baseball league
Upwards of 300 kids are suddenly without summer baseball after a board that manages their fields decided to end baseball for everyone.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Upwards of 300 kids are suddenly without summer baseball after a board that manages their fields decided to end the sport for everyone.

In southeast Harris County, El Franco Lee Park is home to Southbelt baseball - a place that was gearing up for summer action.

But those dreams have been put on hold after parents and kids learned games will no longer be allowed after next Thursday.

"To have that taken away is very hurtful," parent Raul Jimenez said. "Honestly."

"It makes me sad," parent Lara Autrey said. "It's hard to explain to him. We came here and he knows baseball. Right now, he's out on the field playing wiffleball. Then, what? We're going to be at home and then what?"

Here's what happened. The Southbelt Sports Association has a contract with the county to manage the fields.

This week, the board decided to end baseball for everyone. The issue is over a pony league.

Late last year, the majority of parents switched from the little league to a pony league. Leaders from the little league they left say they grew concerned about financial transactions they found after the new pony league was formed.

"I do want the district attorney to investigate this," Southbelt Little League spokesperson Jose Sanchez said.

There is currently no criminal investigation. The people behind the pony league told ABC13 they did nothing wrong and are willing to meet with the association.

They said the money in question was fees paid by parents, and when they voted to switch leagues late last year, they took the money with them. A member of the association that kicked them off the field told ABC13 they aren't sure and want to see documents.

Until it does, no baseball is allowed for both the little league and pony league.

"I feel bad for the kids, but this had to come," Sanchez explained. "Sooner or later, this was going to come and it came at the end of the season."

It's an ending for about 300 kids they didn't see coming.

"My stomach felt sick," Autrey said. "I'm like, 'Is he not going to finish out his all-star season that he made his first year playing all-stars?'"

"Upsetting," parent Jessica Jimenez said. "Very disturbing. We're still upset about it. Honestly, I'm still getting emotional about it."

Now, the fields that have been a second home for years may be quiet this summer.

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