- Last Updated on 08:18 AM 04/22/13
- BY Joe Chandler
When the South Boston Dixie Youth Baseball League held its opening ceremony Saturday, the occasion marked a milestone event in the history of the South Boston and Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball baseball leagues.
Saturday’s league opening, with approximately 350 players plus coaches on the field at the Day Complex, marked the start of a merger between the two leagues that signals a new chapter in Halifax County’s youth baseball history.
Officials of the Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball League, which has operated since the mid-to-late 1950’s, made the decision a few months ago with a 10-8 vote among its board members, to join forces with the South Boston league in an effort to continue to provide a quality program for its players.
Randy Moore, who had served as president of the Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball League, said Saturday this is the right move for the league.
“One of our problems was participation — we didn’t have enough coaches or people willing to help,” Moore explained.
“It wasn’t a matter of not having enough players. We had about 130 players in Halifax. In fact, we had just about outgrown the field (the baseball field at the former Halifax Elementary School).
Another factor that came into play for the Halifax league was a move last year by Dixie Youth Baseball officials to end the practice of leagues having sub-district tournaments and, instead, playing district tournaments with more teams participating.
Larger tournaments, with more teams and larger crowds in the confined area of the Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball League field would have created some major issues for the league.
South Boston Dixie Youth Baseball League Commissioner Harold Carmichael and Moore both say the merger is a “win-win” situation for everybody.
“I’ve known Randy and a lot of the folks from Halifax for a number of years,” Carmichael said.
“When you take these two communities, with the people that want to be involved in it, this going to make the program stronger. When you look out here on the field this morning there are 350 or more kids here between the two leagues, you can see that.
“We’ve got great people from Halifax like Randy, Billy Mahan and Jack Dunnavant Jr. working with us and Larry Blanks behind the scenes,” added Carmichael.
“They’re great people and we’re glad to have them and we look forward to working with them for years to come.”
Dixie Inc., which oversees the operation of all of the South Boston Dixie Youth and Dixie Boys Baseball Leagues, added officials from the Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball League onto its board of directors.
“We voted five people from the Halifax Dixie Youth League onto our Dixie Inc. board,” Carmichael said.
“We welcome them with open arms. They have some great ideas, and this is going to be a great thing for the community in the long run.”
With the merger, the South Boston Dixie Youth Baseball League has entered into a three-year commitment to provide two all-star teams in each of its age groups, the Machine Pitch, AAA Minor League and O-Zone League.
For regular-season play, teams in the South Boston league will have a mixture of players from both leagues, thus opening the door for a mix of players for the two all-star teams.
“I don’t know that we will even put a name on the front of the shirts (of the all-star teams) other than placing something like American or National on them,” Carmichael said.
“We combined so late that we really didn’t have a chance to get all of the “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed. We may call it South Boston-Halifax, but we’ll probably just put American and National on the uniforms this season and then come to an agreement on the name next year.
“I’m not comfortable calling it just South Boston Dixie Youth now that we have Halifax with us,” Carmichael continued.
“That is something we will talk about this winter with the Halifax people. I feel like we can come to some sort of agreement, and we may even change the name of the league to reflect both leagues.”
The post-season will be a busy one for the South Boston Dixie Youth Baseball League. This season South Boston will host the Machine Pitch, AAA Minor League and O-Zone district tournaments, at least one of which Halifax was originally scheduled to host.
Halifax Dixie Youth Baseball field
While the two leagues have merged, the field at the former Halifax Elementary School will continue to be put to good use.
Moore said the current plan is to use the Halifax field for Machine Pitch and Minor League games.
“I was told as long as we keep using the field we could always use it,” Moore explained.
“We’re playing Minor League and Machine Pitch games there. That has worked out well because we can end games sooner and cut the lights out earlier for the people living in the neighborhood and be a good neighbor in that regard.”
Carmichael said throughout the talks between officials of the two leagues one of the key areas of focus was to continue using the Halifax field.
“When we, and I mean the South Boston Dixie Youth Baseball League, agreed to combine with Halifax, our main thing was to not close that baseball field in Halifax,” said Carmichael.
“We want to make it as friendly as possible to the neighbors there. Some of them have complained in the past about the lights and other matters. I think we can co-exist with the neighbors. We want to be good neighbors. We’re going to keep the field open over there as long as they will let us keep using it.
“We’ve got plenty of ball teams,” added Carmichael.
“We have 350 kids playing ball between the two leagues, so we really need that ball field to accommodate games.”