We’ve been trying to get a handle on how the popularity of baseball vs. lacrosse is shaping up in Wellesley given the rising presence of lacrosse in town and the increasingly common concerns among local baseball coaches (including me) that kids are being drawn away from America’s pastime to the faster action of lacrosse. The assumption that boys in town will play in Little League is no longer valid.
We attempted to get some numbers on league growth for Wellesley Youth Lacrosse, but didn’t hear back from their main listed contact. Still, there’s no doubt that lacrosse is on the rise in town. Among other things:
*Two lacrosse equipment/apparel have opened shop over the past year;
*The movie Crooked Arrows did casting here and even picked some Wellesley players to take part in the film;
*The WHS lacrosse teams have performed extremely well.
*We more and more frequently hear parents discussing how their kids are juggling lacrosse schedules with those of other sports, with the other sports increasingly losing out.
Brandon Keith, manager of the Lacrosse Unlimited store in Wellesley Square, says “Central Massachusetts is the next hotbed for lacrosse in Mass. , and Wellesley has the largest youth program in the Northeast for Girls and Boys and only getting bigger. “
His view on baseball vs. lacrosse:
“There is a definitive rivalry between baseball and lacrosse. Baseball today is a competitive sport, not only between teams but within them. The sport is more of an individual effort in the sense that the game, at one point in time, may lay on the shoulders of one of their players. In order to play in a game of baseball, you must be the best for the job, which puts some children in a bad state of mind; from this they do not progress as others would due to their lack of playing time or attention. In the lacrosse world, it’s an absolute team sport; if one wheel on the car doesn’t work then it wont drive down the road. Because of this team mentality, it causes the players on the team to help those who may be struggling.”
While numbers on youth baseball participation in Wellesley are hard to come by, indicators of a drop-off in baseball interest include the facts that the Wellesley Middle School baseball team didn’t have enough boys try out to fill its roster (WMS did have enough players to field a team), the cancellation of a fall baseball team for middle school kids last year, and difficulty getting enough teens to fill a summer team roster (Wellesley is now joining forces with Weston and Wayland to form a team). We’ve heard similar stories related to softball.
Then again, Wellesley Little League’s American and National Leagues for kids in grades 3-7 had the same number of teams as a year ago, and even though some kids aren’t playing in WLL as they get older, they are still playing baseball with AAU. Wellesley Little League finished last summer on a high after its Williamsport team had a fantastic run in the tournament. What’s more, Wellesley baseball could be given a huge boost if alum Nate Freiman makes it to the major leagues this year, which could well happen given his hot hitting for the San Diego Padres’ Double A team. And who knows, maybe even Wellesley resident Carl Crawford will return soon to the Red Sox line-up and provide a spark.
Thoughts on how youth baseball/softball vs. lacrosse is playing out in town or your family?