A Message from the President of SLBRL

Updated Wednesday January 3, 2018 by South Lakeland Baseball.

Dear Parents & Players,

More than 10 years ago, I was introduced to South Lakeland Babe Ruth League when my son played his first season of T-ball here at Loyce-Harpe Park. As I watched my son learn many life lessons each season, I came to understand how important this opportunity was not only for him, but also for every other child who participates in this program. I have watched players and families develop friendships that extend well beyond the ball park into schools, other youth sports leagues, and churches. 

I am proud to be a part of this great program. We have realized so many successes as a league. Each year, we have been well represented around the state and Southeast region by our All-Star program. We continue to upgraded amenities located throughout the park, which benefit not only the 500-plus participants in our league each year, but also many others in the local community who are able to enjoy these enhancements.  

I have seen people work hard and donate a great deal of time, talent, and treasures to this league to ensure that it continues to thrive and grow. I am so impressed with the volunteers who work as hard as they do to pull off something that is often thankless, but yet so important to the youth of our community. The league is now looking to the community for new board members to step up and take the lead as we transition in the near future as many of our long-term board members step off the board.  Many members have served for years as their children have come up through our league but are now aging out and moving on as their children begin to play high school sports.  We are looking for fresh faces and new energy to transition this healthy youth sports program to the next generation of volunteers. We will work hard as a board to ensure the success of South Lakeland Babe Ruth League for many years to come.

We are looking forward to another great spring season of baseball.  Please find below answers to some of our commonly asked questions. Feel free to contact any member of the Board should you need further information. I look forward to seeing all of you on Opening Day, February 24th, and during the rest of our Spring 2018 season.                                                  

Best Regards,     Dan Esterline- President, SLBRL


Rookie, Minor, Major, Prep Division – Mandatory Player Evaluations: All non-protected players in Rookie Division through Prep Division must attend player evaluations and be drafted onto a team. Each manager is able to designate a maximum of 3 players as protected (including their own child) in Rookie through Prep Division. These protections are determined by the manager only.  NO COACH REQUESTS CAN BE HONORED in these divisions.  It is up to the coach to draft his desired players.   All Players will make a team. All no-shows will be randomly assigned to teams via hat pick.

Player Evaluation Schedule:   Mon, Jan 22nd – Major; Tues, Jan 23rd – Minor; Fri, Jan 25th – Rookie – (Registration and warm ups will begin at 5:30pm.) Players need to bring their glove and bat and dress appropriately. Each divisional evaluation will begin promptly at 6:00pm and last approximately 2 hours. 

Prep (Sat, Feb 10th – Prep evaluation time -10 am)


Practices & Playing Schedule: Smart Start and Prep Division: These players will be contacted by February 12th.


Smart Start will have one game/practice per week beginning at either 5:45pm or 6:45pm and some Saturday mornings.

Smart Start Practices begin – Week of February 12th

Coach Pitch, Rookie, Minor and Major Divisions: Your coach should contact you no later than January 29th to advise you of your team practice schedule. Practices begin for all divisions (except Smart Start and Prep) – the week of January 29th. All divisions (except Smart Start), most games will take place on Monday or Tuesday and Thursday or Friday evenings at 6:30pm plus some Saturday practices. As a reminder, any rained-out games will normally be made up the Saturday following the rain-out unless otherwise approved by the League President.

***If you still have not heard from your coach AFTER the notification date above, please contact the league phone***


Other Important Dates: February 19-23 -  Uniforms handed out/ unsold BBQ Tickets and monies due (look for an email)

February 24th - Opening Day                                                                                           

March 26-30, Spring Break—No games!


Refunds: Refunds can only be made for early cancellations. Please make your request in writing to us at info@southlakelandbaseball.com. NO REFUNDS WILL BE MADE ONCE A CHILD IS PLACED ON A TEAM

Rain-Outs: In an effort to keep parents updated on field conditions and rain-outs this season, we have adopted a feature to send you text messages of game cancellations and rain delays. While this service is not mandatory, we want to afford you every opportunity to provide you with up-to-the-minute status on impending weather. To sign-up, simply text SLBRL to 84483 from your cell phone.


Uniforms & Equipment: All players will be issued a uniform jersey and hat. Players are responsible for obtaining their own glove, bat, helmet, team-colored belts and socks, and pants. Cleats are optional in Smart Start and recommended in all other divisions. Parents should wait to purchase pants until after their coach advises them of the team pant color. All uniforms will be individually handed out to parents beginning February 18. All BBQ tickets and monies collected MUST BE turned in at time of uniform pick-up. The league also offers a pants/socks/belt package. Look for an email on the pants package.


Pants Package & Extra Uniforms: The league is able to offer a package deal for uniform pants and a team-colored belt and socks. This offer can help save parents some $$ and time without having to shop around for each of these items individually. Order your pants package today and leave the worry of finding team colors to us. The league also offers extra team shirts for parents or brothers and sisters. More information will be distributed the first week of practice regarding this package.


Concession Stand Volunteer Opportunities: For parents of players registered in all Cal Ripken Divisions (Coach Pitch through Majors) interested in performing one evening of concession stand duty during the season, a $20 credit will be applied against your registration fees. Concession duty begins at 6:00pm and lasts approximately 2.5 hours. During this timeframe, you will assist in window service and food preparation. No children under the age of 13 are allowed inside the concession stand; therefore, please make appropriate arrangements on the evening of your scheduled shift. Parents may sign up by contacting Concession Director Shayne Whealton at (863) 512-0325. Parents are encouraged to sign up for more than one concession date if possible. We also welcome youth 13 YOA or older in need of volunteer service hours.


League Dollars and Cents: Registration fees do not cover the cost of our baseball league. In an effort to keep registration fees as low as possible, the league makes use of a BBQ Opening day fundraiser and relies on the generous sponsorship support by our community. The league is also dependent on concessions sales to bridge the cost difference gap. Some of the many costs which registration fees go toward include: Uniforms for both players and coaches, Babe Ruth Charter Fees, Insurance, Polk County Parks & Recreation fees, Background checks on all coaches and parent volunteers, equipment (baseballs, catcher’s gear, pitching machines), field maintenance supplies and service (striping, chalking, etc.), umpires, and other administrative costs (office supplies, copying, tournament trophies, league phone, advertisements).

Banners & Team Sponsorships: As mentioned above, the league would not survive if it weren’t for our generous sponsors. Sponsorship donations are a great way to support the youth of our community while promoting your business. All sponsorships are also tax deductible, as SLBRL is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. If you or your business are able to help with sponsorship, please email sponsorship@southlakelandbaseball.com.


BBQ Fundraiser: Our BBQ Fundraiser has been a HUGE fundraising success for us in the past and has allowed us to make many of our capital improvements. During your first week of practice, players will receive a packet of 10 BBQ tickets to sell. We ask that you sell as many tickets as possible; however, you MUST turn in those tickets that you do not sell prior to February 22nd so that we can account for them. The team and coach with the highest number of ticket sales per player will be rewarded! The individual player with the highest number of ticket sales in the league will receive a $100 sports equipment gift certificate. We need your help, so sell those tickets!


Recycle Old Equipment: Got old equipment lying around? Don’t throw it out! Bring it to the park and donate it to a family in need. Due to tough economic conditions, many families are not able to buy new equipment each season. The league will gladly accept your old or outgrown equipment and put it to good use by a family in need. If you are a family experiencing hardship and would like to see some of the equipment available, contact us via e-mail. Look for our booth on opening day.


SLBRL Website: The league website, www.southlakelandbaseball.com, is your best source of updated information. We are constantly updating it and will put all pertinent information and important dates on the site as they come available.

For questions on any issues not addressed here, please contact us at 863.333.5077

President's Letter 2018.pdf