Yes, We Will Play Ball in 2021! Si, Jugaremos Ball En 2021!

Rhode Island youth baseball leagues are actively seeking players for the Spring 2021 baseball season. With promising numbers being reported daily by the CDC and our RI state health leaders, Spring baseball is looking more and more like it will happen. Social media pages and websites are sharing photos and registration information for their community members to log on and sign up. And there is a growing trend amongst some Rhode Island leagues that is dedicated to providing registration information in a multitude of languages.

According to Data USA and data collected as of 2018, about 12% of Rhode Island citizens are Spanish speaking. Roughly 3% of Rhode Island citizens are speak Portuguese. Based on the census numbers of about 1.06 million people living in Rhode Island, that equates to about 125,000 Spanish speaking Rhode Islanders and about 24,000 Portuguese speaking Rhode Islanders. In these Rhode Island Spanish and Portuguese communities, sports is a very important aspect of their daily lives, especially youth sports like baseball. (here is the link to the Data USA information)

Last spring I visited Darlington American Little League’s home park, Slater Park in Pawtucket. While I was taking photos of the fields, I noticed their safety signage was in several languages. English, Spanish, Portuguese speaking members of the Darlington baseball community attend the games to watch their sons and/or daughters participate, so it is only fitting that the signage be multi-lingual. The same signage was posted at Pineview Little League’s baseball fields, also in Pawtucket. Great job by Darlington, Pineview, and the City of Pawtucket for embracing diversity in their baseball community.

This weekend, I received a message from Richard Hemphill, President of Olneyville at Silver Lake Little League. Richard shared a photo of his registration post and asked me to share it on my pages, which I am always happy to do. The registration post included two photos, one in English and one in Spanish. I asked him what the impact was on his community members having the two posts in English and Spanish. “Our league is multi-cultural,” stated Richard, “we embrace the fact that we have many different kids from many different walks of life.” Seeing Richard’s post and answer sparked an interest to find out what other leagues are posting in multiple languages.

I recently participated in a discussion with The Public Radio’s Ana Gonzalez regarding baseball, the Spanish speaking community here in Rhode Island, and what communities are doing to engage the Spanish speaking families participating in baseball programs. It was a great opportunity to learn more about how families from the Dominican Republic are participating and thriving in baseball programs such as the Providence Sports and Leadership program. Here is the link to Ana’s interview with PSL players, coaches, and families – Los Peloteros de PSL.

I applaud the community leaders, league representatives, and volunteers who embrace the diversity in their baseball communities. With a growing population of families who identify English as a second language, it is even more important to include registration and website information in multiple languages. The positive effects of posting in English as well as Spanish and Portuguese help provide a level of comfort for the reader. I know, for me personally, English is my primary language and if I had to read something in Spanish or Portuguese, I wouldn’t feel as comfortable. Rhode Island sports leagues, such as Little League or Cal Ripken Baseball, are always seeking new and effective ways to bring in players and families to support their league’s operations. In my opinion adding registration, signage at baseball fields, and information on their websites in multiple languages is a positive step in that direction.

If you need some ideas, here are the links to the baseball leagues mentioned in this article:

Olneyville at Silver Lake Little League

Central Falls Youth Baseball

Elmwood Little League

Washington Park Baseball

Baseball Parks, Fields, and Complexes Youth Baseball News

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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