NEBALL celebrates its 25th Anniversary
WINDHAM TOWNSHIP - The Northeast Bradford Area Little League (NEBALL) complex on state Route 1049 in Windham Township boasts three ball fields, a concession stand, rest rooms, a large pavilion and a large parking area.
Twenty-five years ago, the complex didn't exist.
In fact, prior to a quarter-century ago, there was no Little League in the northeastern part of the county.
Prior to 1988, various towns in the area, such as LeRaysville, Rome and Warren Center, had their own youth baseball teams, but one team might have a better equipment than another or a team might have nicer uniforms than other teams, recalls Dennis "Skip" Thomas, who served as a NEBALL coach during the first six years of its existence.
On Saturday, at the opening day of season play at the complex, Little League officials celebrated the 25th anniversary of the granting of a charter to the Northeast Bradford Area Little League, which brought Little League play to the area.
With the granting of the charter, the town teams became Little League teams, which meant that all the NEBALL players would be using the same equipment, Thomas said.
And becoming part of the Little League meant that insurance would be provided for players and local baseball facilities, and that local teams would be part of the worldwide Little League organization, he said.
Thomas credited the first president of NEBALL, Jim Crawford, with having the vision to construct the NEBALL complex, where the local NEBALL teams would be based.
Crawford saw that the NEBALL complex would be not just a group of ball fields, but "a community-wide place for families and kids to get together," Thomas said.
While Crawford's vision for a central Little League complex did become a reality, initially there was a lot of opposition to the idea from people who wanted the various towns to continue to have their own teams, Thomas said.
Today there are 200 children on 16 different teams based at the NEBALL complex, ranging from kids as young as five years old on T-ball teams to kids as old as 16 years on senior teams, said Matt Smith, president of NEBALL. There are both baseball and softball teams based the complex, including boys' and girls' teams.
By 1992, the West Warren Baseball Association donated the land for the NEBALL complex and the first ball field was developed at the site.
In 1993, the complex' third ball field was developed, and the concession stand building was constructed.
Dugouts were added over the years.
In 2011, the complex, including its three ball fields, was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Lee, officials said. "The pavilion was pretty much down on the ground," Thomas recalled.
Talisman Energy was instrumental in helping NEBALL to repair the damage from the flood, NEBALL officials said. Talisman donated $40,000 for the project.
In addition, CC Allis & Sons Inc., donated the materials for a new pavilion. The new pavilion, which was constructed this year, contains 12 picnic tables.
Today, all of the damage from the flood has been repaired, Smith said.
NEBALL is continuing to improve the site, as it is in the process of upgrading its existing bleachers and adding new ones.
NEBALL serves the residents of the Northeast Bradford School District.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com.