FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. My son is playing baseball, and we’ve had to spend on it, but nowhere near that much. And certainly nowhere near as much as the hockey parents have to spend. That’s just crazy.

    Comment by Matthew E — June 28, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  2. If you don’t mind me asking, how much does it cost your family for your son to play? (And how much do the hockey parents have to spend?)

    Feel free to — har har — give me a ballpark estimate.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 28, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  3. I, playing little league for a good 2 years and a travel baseball tournament team for a while, had to spend a good bit of money. Provided I had a batting cage of my own in my back yard, and I played literally every position there is, so I had the usual stuff plus all the catching gear, and that my father was a coach of the team I was on, so there were some more things. However, I would bet money that the cost of baseball isn’t as much as people think. There’s more sports that are likely more expensive, such as karate.

    Comment by ChopMaster — June 28, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  4. I can’t give an estimate for hockey, but I remember my high school psychology teacher ranting about how expensive it was for children to be in hockey and dance.

    Comment by Bryz — June 28, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  5. While I am passed my little league days, as a fan of the Atlanta Braves I can enjoy the games for very cheap.

    Expenses from yesterday:
    $2 ticket from stubhub (plus a $2 convenience fee)
    $5 parking at a off-location lot
    $2 on two waters that I brought into the stadium
    $4 on a six pack of beer I drank tailgating in the lot before the game

    -Watching the immortal Chipper Jones hit a homer: Priceless (+ a free Moe’s burrito to everyone in the stands for a home run in the Moe’s home-wrecker inning!)

    And on top of that, we were able to move down into some pretty great seats behind home plate.

    Comment by Just a fan — June 28, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

  6. Baseball is like most activities – you can go all out and spend a fortune, or you can take it easy and do it on the cheap. Joining a Little League team isn’t overly expensive. Buying a glove for a child isn’t overly expensive. You can borrow someone’s bat if you want, and the rest of the equipment is provided. If your child wants to play baseball and you don’t have much money, you can likely find enough spare change to pay the required costs.

    If you make plenty of green and you’re serious about your kid advancing, you can sign him up for multiple teams, buy him the most expensive gear, take him to the batting cage, etc. But none of that is required.

    Comment by vivalajeter — June 28, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  7. Yeah, hockey can be a bit ridiculous.
    Costs have gone wayyyy down in the last 10 years, but when I was a kid, costs were outrageous if you wanted even decent equipment.
    My parents and I tried to go way budget, but with equipment as advanced as it is, you can be the best player out there and you still won’t compete with kids with superior equipment.

    Comment by GUY — June 28, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  8. if you can buy your kid a glove, i think you’ll be able to play catch with them.

    or, just save yours from now.

    Comment by MrKnowNothing — June 28, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

  9. My brother plays baseball relatively seriously, and he’s never had to spend too much. Then again, he’s never played on a traveling team, and doesn’t bother buying a lot of his own equipment. He still has the same glove he’s used since he started little league, and he’s now going into his junior year of high school. I think if you want to buy your own equipment, your own fancy bats, batting cages, pitching machines, etc. It can definitely add up. But all you really need is a glove and a set of cleats, as long as you can find a decent team to play on. The team will have its own set of equipment, and with a decent coach I’m sure you can find a way to use the stuff for extra practice. To me, it’s still about wealth, but it’s more about living in a wealthier area that can afford some serious coaches, traveling teams, and so on. My brother will never get to really get serious about baseball because we live in the boondocks of Maine, with mediocre coaches, very few traveling teams, and minimal equipment and poor fields. In a situation like that, yes, you have to pay a lot of our own money to get ahead since there’s nothing available. But if you’re in a bigger city or something, you might be able to find the right school or traveling team that would give you the help you need.

    Comment by Sam — June 28, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  10. I’ll chime in on hockey.
    Easily $1,000 to set a kid up with pads, sticks, skates, helmet, jerseys, gloves, etc. You’re lucky if anything lasts you more than a year.
    Add in league fees, memberships, skate sharpenings, travel and you’re looking at $3,000+ a year for a kid who’s playing rec/little league.

    Comment by GUY — June 28, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

  11. Ooooh boy, those costs are giving us A’s fans a run for our money!

    Comment by GUY — June 28, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  12. I’m not really buying it. The numbers don’t add up, for one- there are too few wealthy and even upper-middle class kids to fill up high school or youth league rosters in most places. College baseball is somewhat of an exception because of the limited scholarship money. But someone has to be playing baseball already for that to be an issue.

    With respect to the associated costs… football is an extremely equipment-intensive sport. Young basketball players are often obsessed with crazy-expensive shoes. Travel costs are significant for any team that does so extensively. In pretty much any sport, it comes down to the family’s commitment level and whether they are savvy consumers.

    Comment by JA — June 28, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  13. It’s not that pricey. I always had league fees, presumably in the 90′s in the $75-$150 range. I played on “traveling teams” but we never really had to go *that* far. I lived in metro with 2million and across the state about 4 hours away was another Major League City. I had two gloves growing up. A catchers mitt and infielders glove. Both lasted 5-12 years depending on how responsible I was with it. Mostly the travel meant going to other tourneys around the city. Lots of trips out to the burbs since it takes a lot of space for ball diamonds but really not that bad. I owned one bat that I bought used, but the team always had bats. I never bought a helmet, but the team always had helmets. I did have to buy a new pair of cleats every year. I never got the Nikes until High School so they were in the $45 range.

    So not that expensive. You can often borrow other kids gloves. I usually used the team Catchers mitt until I was in middle school and if I played first I borrowed someone’s 1st baseman’s mitt.

    I think the cost of the game is greatly overrated. It can be expensive if you let it, just like anything else. If you can do with less than the best stuff you’ll be just fine. Furthermore, check out programs like RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City, a project of the Boys and Girls Club) for a very affordable baseball program that exists in nearly every major league city and some lesser cities.

    Comment by KCExile — June 28, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  14. When I was a good I played baseball and soccer. I don’t think the baseball was too onerous for my parents, but the soccer almost certainly was. I was on a team that traveled up and down the East Coast, frequently requiring hotel stays. My dad would drive me back and forth to home multiple hours each way every day for weekend tournaments because we couldn’t afford hotels (like all the other players). In those days gas was cheap, so we would spend 10 hours a weekend driving in the car easily every weekend each summer. The really far trips (out of country or way out of the region) would require hotel trips and then my parents would make a family vacation out of it to justify the expense. My parents were extremely dedicated considering they really aren’t sports people.

    Comment by Jason H — June 28, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  15. When I was a “kid”, not “good”…. ….maybe a bit of wishful thinking there!

    Comment by Jason H — June 28, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  16. I have a son who is 9 and we spent around $80 for the team fee for his RBI league in a major metropolitan city. He practices 3 nights a week and plays 1-2 games a week. His glove was $40 2 or 3 years ago, he gets new cleats every year for $40 or so, and we buy him a bat every year and he uses his old one at the batting cages when we go.

    Right now I would guess we spend $250 a year for him, but assuming he makes the traveling team next year(a fair bet based on his early development relative to peers) I’m anticipating spending $800-$1000 once travel to tournaments is thrown in.

    In fairness, we will simply be spending fewer weekends at our family lake house and more weekends at hotels around the upper midwest watching baseball, so the travel costs are sort of eating into existing vacation budgets moreso than being a new expense.

    Admittedly, we’re solidly into the middle class so our experience isn’t a refutation of the idea that baseball is too expensive, but we’re not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve never had to worry about the expenses of baseball.

    Comment by Dustin — June 28, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  17. I will say being raised as a lower middle class white, I was pushed into basketball/football partially because of my fringy baseball skills as a child. Basketball/football were provided by the school as weightlifting and summer league teams were provided by the school. I could improve my skills for largely no cost to me and my family. Football which is where I stuck, everything was provided by schools. If I could have developed my skills for free in baseball you just never know, I think its the cost of skill development that filters those that could use it in baseball to other sports.

    Comment by ill take both dakotas! — June 28, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  18. There are two things going on here, 1) The cost of playing baseball, and 2) The cost of being GOOD at baseball. 1) It still doesn’t cost that much to play baseball, you can get by with used equipment and reletively low league fees. 2) But High level baseball is a different story. Unless you have a family member who is a quality baseball coach, you’re going to have to pay for a good one. If you are a pitcher, you need a good pitching coach at at least $40/hr or a hitting coach at the same price and you need to work at it every day. The best players pay their money to play in better leagues, better tournaments. So unless you have the talent to excel at the sport without putting in the work of playing against the best competition, you are going to have to pay. High School sports aren’t free either. Either you are going to pay, $1,000 a season, or you are going to have to work your butt off fundraising, and without that kind of money, your program will shrivel up and die. The money is necessary for field upkeep, umpires, and equipment.

    Growing up, I was never good enough to have to pay the rediculous amounts that are required for travel ball tournaments or high level leagues. But my brother is going through this right now. And it’s an incredible financial burden on my parents. Some of the best high school players in the nation are in Arizona right now for the Junior Olympics, and the tournament lasts over a week. And that’s one tournament.

    Comment by ppabich — June 28, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  19. Good post. And it doesn’t seem like equipment quality really matters. Actual talent washes that out.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — June 28, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  20. Not wealthy with a family lake house? Bitch, I live in a fkn trash-can!!!

    Comment by poor brotha — June 28, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  21. Hey, did you know that Henry Aaron grew up hitting bottlecaps with a stick that he gripped cross-handed, with his left hand on top of his right hand?

    Comment by John — June 28, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  22. Yeah, that’s my fault on the poor editing.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 28, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  23. Terrific point. Playing the game is one thing. But I worry that the ability to play at a high level is becoming a luxury good.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 28, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  24. As a father/coach of two I think this is pretty accurate. Playing baseball isn’t that expensive but to get the coaching required to play at a high level (barring fantastic natural talent) and to play on traveling teams in tournaments against the best competition, that can get pricey. And really, that second group of players is the one who (for the most part) ends up getting drafted high enough to make real money or go to college on a scholarship.

    Comment by Ragoczy — June 28, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  25. That’s not true at all. Equipment isn’t even close to giving you an edge.

    Comment by Nik — June 28, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  26. Is this also not true of other sports? From my experience it is certainly true of soccer, which, as you note in the article, has almost no equipment costs.

    Comment by Jason H — June 28, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

  27. When I played Little League in the 80s/early 90s in my district the fee was $25 for the first kid, and $15 for each additional sibling. It’s now $175/$150. The next district over which has a sprawling new complex is $225 per kid. So I’d imagine what this is doing is weeding out the kids whose parents used to sign them up regardless of whether they actually wanted to play or not. The kids who would show up to a third of the practices and two thirds of the games. In essence, weeding out the casual player for those families who aren’t at least of the upper middle class who before may have signed up their kids knowing they were essentially going to be part-time participators since it was only $25.

    But yes, youth hockey is much more crazy expensive between league fees, ice time, equipment, and $200 composite sticks that snap like twigs it’s no effort to run up $1500-2000 for one league.

    Comment by David B — June 28, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  28. One thing I found laughable within the reference to the Chris Isadore column is the concept that black child-athletes (or really ANY child-athlete for that matter) are weighing the pros, cons, and odds of earning a college scholarship in their respective sports at that age. I grew up lower-middle class and equally loved the sports I played right up through my teenage years, which is when I began to get scouted in baseball and realized I had the opportunity to parlay it into something greater. Yes, I was a very strong student and academics probably mattered much more to me than the typical high school athlete, but the idea that I, or any of my peers, were thinking about the likelihood of college scholarships at age 8 is just absurd.

    Also regarding youth sports, the kids who are poor performers tend to wash out for a few reasons: a) as you get older, teams get more competitive and there are more “cuts” b) nobody likes to play if they’re consistently failing, I don’t care how much they love the game. Neither of these have anything to do with prohibitive costs of playing the game. My brother and I walked to a local field with a bucket of 12 ratty, crappy baseballs, and just wore each other out for hours a day as kids every single summer. Not a lot of costs there. It was just what we loved.

    Comment by Joe — June 28, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  29. Yeah, it’s especially cheap when both of you carpool together.

    Comment by Jack — June 28, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  30. As a hitting instructor I refuse to over charge for training and often give discounts. Baseball is a sport everyone should have a chance to play.

    Comment by Justin — June 28, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  31. Baseball as a kid wasn’t that expensive. I grew up relatively poor on Long Island and we always had a tennis ball and a wooden bat to play with if nothing else. I obviously didn’t make it to the major leagues, so I can’t comment on if more is needed to make it that far, but I know that we had fun. I didn’t run into people who felt they needed the ‘best of everything to compete’ until I started playing slow pitch softball as an adult. I think it’s marketing more than anything.

    Now, that said, if you want another sport with a high cost of entry, look no further than lacrosse. You’re looking at $150 for the stick, $150 for the helmet, $100 for the gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, PAL fees etc. lax and hockey are the only true upper middle class sports imo.

    Comment by Schu — June 28, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

  32. Most top-flight male athletes play multiple sports while growing up — generally, if you find a kid who’s fast and strong, you’ll recruit him to play just about anything. By the time they get to high school, they will be pushed to pick one.

    (Some of them may still resist making that choice, like Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman and then entered the NBA, or dual-sport players like Brian Jordan, Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, and Danny Ainge. But they’d be the exceptions, and there haven’t been as many dual-sport players in the last decade as there were in the previous two.)

    Indisputably, one of the major incentives is money. High school basketball players have a chance to enter the league immediately, and high school basketball and high school football both attract a lot more scholarship attention and prestige than high school baseball.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 28, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

  33. I follow your line of reasoning. I also think that in basketball or football it’s a tad easier to be a standout in basketball or football at the high school level, at least compared to positional baseball prospects, making the likelihood of scholarships and professional futures easier to project (though still inexact).

    Incredible athleticism, size and pure ability are easy to see on a basketball court or a football field, whereas positional prospects in baseball (as well as less “projectable” pitching prospects) face a whole host of uncertainties: is the hitting ability the function of a metal bat, what’s the true level of competition the player faced, etc…

    I wonder if there would be an appreciable difference in the demographics of baseball if the allocation of scholarships for the sport were changed significantly (positively, obviously)? Thoughts?

    Comment by Joe — June 28, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  34. Searched the comments for RBI and wasn’t disappointed, good point. I wonder if RBI can be a model for similar programs, either privately or at the school district / state / national level.

    Comment by Snowblind — June 28, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  35. I disagree with the notion that baseball is too expensive to play. You need to provide your own glove, cleats, cup, and uniform. League fees cover bats and balls, in addition to umpires. If you compare to soccer, for example, you still need cleats, shin guards, and uniform.

    I think it is more a matter of space. Poor people tend to be either in urban areas or in rural areas (in my experience). Suburbs tend to be where the middle income and higher reside. Baseball needs space (not found in urban areas) and sufficient players (not found in rural areas). The suburbs have both space and roster depth. Family wealth is more of a coincidence than a reason.

    Comment by Bob — June 28, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  36. Also, traveling teams are expensive regardless of the sport. When I consider if baseball is too expensive for kids, I look at the base cost to be involved (compare to golf – where you pay for every round, competition or practice) eater than the cost to play comparatively and/or seriously.

    Comment by Bob — June 28, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  37. Seriously? Ok, give a kid a pair of blunt, uncomfortable skates, bulky, inhibiting pads and an, cheap stick and see how he’ll do out there.
    Skates alone, quite literally, give kids with better equipment an edge.

    Comment by GUY — June 28, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  38. That joke would work better in Cleveland or Tampa this year…

    Comment by GUY — June 28, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  39. if you got a sixer for 4 bucks it can’t really be beer … not unless you brewed it yourself

    Comment by Norcal Beersnob — June 28, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  40. Not OP but I played on a few travel teams while in High School. Mine usually cost around $1200 to join the team for the year. Then of course you needed a high end glove; I had an A2000 by Wilson which cost $180 or so. And a good bat of course, my bat ran close to $200-250. Also since I caught, I needed a set of catchers gear and a mitt. The gear was around $500 and the mitt was another $200. Luckily, both my gloves lasted all four years of HS. And my catchers gear and bat lasted two. So in 4 years of HS ball, my parents ended spending close to $5500 for baseball (Didn’t play on travel team SR year). We didn’t travel too far and only had a few games out of state so travel wasn’t too bad but there were gas costs. I am lucky to have parents that were willing to invest that much. Sadly, I didn’t play baseball after HS. But that is the investment parents make hoping that some college or pro scout sees their son/daughter.

    Comment by Shawn — June 28, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  41. As a kid I played occasional 2 on 2 with a tennis ball after school. A bit of imagination could keep kids playing like that although it doesn’t develop high caliber players. Smaller families spread out reduce the chance of one family in the neighborhood being the core of some kind of sports game. Easier for a boy with no close age brother (girls usually don’t count here) to go to the skate park and just cruise around if there aren’t enough kids.
    One would think that in the era of instant communication that a group of kids could assemble a group of pickup players if they had a leader.

    Comment by gdc — June 28, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

  42. I think you know that’s not true.

    Comment by Baron Samedi — June 28, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  43. I suppose there’s always a chicken/egg problem when you talk about the cost of any particular pastime. That is, it’s hard to say whether the sports/hobbies enjoyed by wealthier people are intrinsically more expensive, or if they are expensive *because* wealthier people engage in them. It’s easy to see why a sport like ice hockey might be intrinsically expensive. But for baseball or lacrosse versus football and basketball, you could certainly imagine a universe where the latter sports were more expensive than the former.

    Comment by Peter 2 — June 28, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

  44. Now days, it’s hard for kids to find a place to play sandlot ball, even in relatively spacious suburban areas. One reason is that they don’t have access to baseball fields. They’re kept under lock and key for fear of lawsuits should some kid hurt himself. For example, my nephew, who is now grown, was brought up just a block from a middle school that had a rudimentary baseball field, but it was surrounded by a chainlink fence and kept locked up all summer.

    You may not get the coaching you need playing sandlot ball, but it’s what made me a baseball fan for life.

    Comment by ChuckO — June 28, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

  45. Baseball certainly can be expensive, if you’re the type that requires a new bat, new glove, new cleats, etc. just because you want new ones. I played baseball year round — recreationally, travel ball, high school — and always found that if you were good enough, someone else would lend you their bat because they wanted you to hit. And, personally, I’m sure growing up in San Diego and getting to face MLB (or minor league) talent — Cole Hamels, Trevor Cahill, John Drennen, etc. — within a five mile radius, consistently, really helped with reducing travel costs. As did being next door neighbors to the coach from ‘The Factory’; but that’s how it is in a baseball hotbed.

    Compared to basketball and soccer, where you need a small arena and a ball to functionally practice, baseball sure is expensive. But compared to hockey, football, and some other sports, the difference in cost really isn’t that drastic.

    The bottom line: I don’t think it is prohibitively expensive to play baseball, and whether or not a youth plays is more a function of proximity to a field (and people to play with) than a function of cost. There are also many biological differences that play a part in determining what sports people pursue.

    Comment by Marver — June 28, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

  46. I don’t see where it is explicitly stated in the article, but there seems to be an implication that if a kid doesn’t play on a traveling team he’ll have no chance to play pro ball. I’d like to see a study on this, because a couple things have stood out to me on this point recently surrounding the draft changes.

    Callis stated during the draft that he thought the changes would lead to two-sport African-American kids clearly going to college. Then as I watched one of these raw, athletic players after another get selected, it became obvious that the opposite was happening. Your reference to the $5m signing bonus player just doesn’t exist anymore. There was only one this year. There will never be a Josh Bell situation again, and I think that’s a very good thing. Baseball’s draft is the last of the major sports to bring certainty into the process, so I think that fact has distorted the issue to a point.

    Because of that cost certainty in the draft, a toolsy player who did not play on a travel team is not such a huge risk. Instead of possibly being a late round high bonus guy, teams will take them earlier and let them turn down first round money or risk never seeing close to that again (see Kenny Diekroger, who given his education does not regret his decision, but most kids would).

    In short, I’m not sure this is such an issue as it relates to a player getting exposure to pro scouts. Keith Law noted that scouts had a hell of a time getting into Jersey to see Mike Trout, and he still went in the first round. He’s certainly not the only one.

    Now if the question is, is the affluence necessary to compete at a high level as a ten year old fair? Sure isn’t, welcome to life.

    Comment by Paul — June 28, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

  47. I also have to question the point on equipment costs. Alex stated that soccer is the most popular sport because all you need is a ball. Well, last I checked a soccer field is larger than a baseball field.

    I just completely disagree on this point. And one of the main facts I learned rather recently is that tennis is the fourth most popular sport in the world and increasing dramatically (except in the U.S.). Tennis equipment is damned expensive.

    I just don’t buy it, especially because I’ve seen how incredibly passionate they are in South America about soccer. I think it’s almost all about culture. They have signs posted on the highways out in the country in Brazil stating not to play soccer on the highway. And their highways are incredibly dangerous. Seems to me if you have to put up a sign telling people not to play soccer on the highway, there’s more to it than that they could afford the ball.

    Comment by Paul — June 28, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  48. rural baseball:
    huffy to get you to the sandlot: $60
    rawlings or wilson glove from wal-mart (same trip as the huffy): $25
    little brother throwing you grounders while the dog wags her tail at her farts: priceless

    Comment by macseries — June 28, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

  49. Anyone watch the NBA draft tonight? Anthony Davis’ high school basketball team practiced with a roll-away hoop in the parking lot. They didn’t have a gym. So basketball is easily the least expensive (of the 4 major sports).

    For baseball expenses, though, you have to look at what you really are spending on. Why do you need an elite-level bat or glove? Why do we need to do a traveling team? Parents really have failed to realize that the traveling teams (AAU) were created for kids who didn’t have a high school team to play with. Now it’s looked as an elite squad.

    Really, it’s the fault of the parents. I’ve never talked to one person who said their school’s baseball team was politic-free, or even just free of the over-competitive parents. Baseball parents are the worst in any sport.

    Comment by GrtSm — June 28, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

  50. I never bought new gear and used stuff until the bitter end. I still have a glove I started using 8 years ago. I always felt like the crappier the gear, the more fastballs I saw :-)

    Comment by Jeff — June 28, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

  51. So true. The son of the father who procured an additional practice facility for my high school team was given the opportunity to pitch on a team in which he had no business pitching. Long story short, he gave up two grandslams to the eighth batter in successive innings in a start against the last place team. Another kid on the high school team was placed on the roster because his father partially funded a renovation of the team clubhouse; he was subsequently booted from the team for urinating in a gatorade bottle that another kid then drank out of. And yet another started every game while slugging under .300 (while other .400+ AVG hitters rotted on the bench) because his cousin was on the coaching staff.

    Your statement of “I’ve never talked to one person who said their school’s baseball team was politic-free” can safely continue.

    Comment by Marver — June 28, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  52. That largely reflects my experience as well during the late 90s- early 00s.

    Talking to parents of children today, it almost seems like it’s a race to prove who spends the most on kids’ sports, as if that’s a proxy for the kid’s talent.

    Comment by Justin — June 28, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  53. You may not consider yourself wealthy — in America EVERYONE thinks he’s middle-class — but if you own two houses, you are much wealthier than most Americans.

    Comment by Jerry — June 29, 2012 @ 12:01 am

  54. To clarify, ,y wife and I own about 10% of one house. My parents are retired and own a vacation home on a lake. I strongly recommend the “friends/family with cabins” club. All the relaxation, none of the work.

    Comment by dustin — June 29, 2012 @ 12:13 am

  55. I just played in the street with tennis balls, some ratty old bats, and misfitting gloves. This and the sports page got me hooked.

    Comment by monkey business — June 29, 2012 @ 12:26 am

  56. soccer was always the most expensive for me and my sister. seems like every single team in the country has a tournament in ohio at some point.

    Comment by wrinklebump — June 29, 2012 @ 12:54 am

  57. “we will simply be spending fewer weekends at our family lake house”
    ==========================================

    pretty sure you fit the exact stereotypical white upper middle class that the author projected

    Comment by cs3 — June 29, 2012 @ 1:14 am

  58. ” Alex stated that soccer is the most popular sport because all you need is a ball. Well, last I checked a soccer field is larger than a baseball field.”
    =======================================

    anybody who has ever played soccer can tell you that you dont need much space at all for a pickup game.

    in fact, an entire soccer practice (even a high level practice at that) can be run in a space the size of a baseball infield.

    Comment by cs3 — June 29, 2012 @ 1:30 am

  59. Children are our future! Unless we stop them first!

    Comment by joser — June 29, 2012 @ 1:42 am

  60. Grew up in France, Paris suburbs, played baseball for 10 years there. Soccer cost about 100$ US or less every year, baseball was 500$ a year. My family was very poor at the time but they made an extra sacrifice because of my love for baseball, but even they managed to do it. Sports cost nothing outside of north america ( most contries that I know about in Europe subsidize and centralize all their sports through federations who allocate ressources based on merit ). Most Europeans I know are very curious about baseball and tend to love it as soon as they are presented with it. Baseball has existed in France since 1924, yet it remains an obscure sport. The main issue I believe is the general lack of free exposure by MLB. Soccer has the world cup, it is free to watch in every country every time. People watch, start getting interested, want to play.
    To get back to the original point, I strongly believe that the decline of baseball comes from simply not being available too enjoy anymore.
    -Media presence inexestant worldwide despite a few select countries
    -Late night games ( no more watching/listening games when you are under 12 years old during summer vacation exept the odd sunday day game when football is on anyways )
    -Games on Cable
    -Local teams blacked out from MLB.TV
    -Way longer commercial breaks then 30 years ago especially late game pitching changes that kill concentration

    Maybe social economic status is also a factor in just accessing baseball at all at a young age? Let alone play!

    Comment by Chris Ferrario — June 29, 2012 @ 3:03 am

  61. Hi all, Hockey in Chicago is VERY expensive. Hourly ice rental is about $400. A travel team of 15-17 players skates 4-5 times a week. Coaches are paid $5,000/yr. Skates, $300 on the low end. Sticks, $200 (2-3/yr), Travel out of town 3-4 trip/yr, $500/trip. referees cost about $75/game (40gm schedule) Helmut, gloves, pants total $200+. Jersey’s another $150-$300.
    There are 3 levels of hockey in Chicago before high school. Tier II is the level I was costing out above. The player fees for ice, coaches, league fees, etc are about $3,500/yr. This does not include equipment and travel. Total costs for tier II run about $7-$10k. Tier 1 is the elite player who travels everywhere. The biggest and most elite league in the US has teams from Chicago, LA, Detroit, Stl, Boston, Fla, Dallas, EVERYWHERE. These kids travel 2+ times/month to these locations. Base fees are $8-10k. Travel is another $6-8/yr. The third level is called house league. This is little league if you will. They play 25 games/yr. Total costs run about $2-$4k. These teams often travel too. If you want your player to play at the highest levels of Jr’s or college forget house. And tier II makes it a longshot.
    Finally, all above costs are for the 6 month winter season. If you’re playing at travel, tier I or II you play summer league, a camp or two and maybe even private lessons.
    Ps. If you really want to compare dull skates to sharpened skates…. Well, you can’t skate on dull skates. Most of the players sharpen their skates at least once per week at a cost of $5–$8. Some of the tier I teams own their own portable skate sharpener.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — June 29, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  62. Anybody who has ever played baseball knows that practice does not just consist of scrimmages that use the entire field at all times. All three major sports only require a portion of their very large fields for practice or casual play.

    In South America there are plenty of parks in cities where instead of installing a baseball field, they put in another soccer field, or basketball, or volleyball. It has absolutely nothing to do with resources.

    I’m almost surprised that we keep coming back to this as a socioeconomic/racial issue. Wasn’t it Orlando Hudson who bluntly stated that baseball is considered a “white sport?”

    The question of resources is a fair one applied extremely narrowly. But substitute opportunities to go on foreign exchange, or attend great summer camps. Upper middle class kids have always had those opportunities that I certainly did not, and that I’m sure most readers did not either. I deal with kids who do all this stuff now and I frankly don’t see in them what they’re getting out of it. Most of them seem to not care less and just want to hang with friends. These activities just allow them to do that, no differently than when they’re hanging in the neighborhood like us poor kids did.

    Comment by Paul — June 29, 2012 @ 7:44 am

  63. Yes, if you’re not sipping on a glass of Chimey when you tailgate a Braves game, you’re obviously doing it wrong.

    Comment by TKDC — June 29, 2012 @ 7:54 am

  64. I play baseball in highschool and i want to say that baseball doesn’t have to be expensive. You get what you pay for. Ive had 3 gloves since i was 5. A mizuno power close ($20) i got 3 years out of it and it still is in working condition. Then i got a nokana, really good glove, ($160) and got 4 years out it. Then i got the tpx omaha pro flare. great glove ($200). No complaints yet. So my point is you could by a cheap 40$ glove once a year that adds up or get good glvoes have them last. This goes with bats. I use wood and i have for 5 years. Ive broken two cheap bat but ive had a mizuno pro maple and it is working great. Shoes can last 1 1/2 years. BUy correctley and youll be fine

    Comment by John — June 29, 2012 @ 8:56 am

  65. If between practices and games, we’re talking 3-5 days per week for maybe 10-12 weeks, we are talking 30-60 sessions per season. Lets say each averages 90 minutes; that is 45-90 hours total for the season.

    If you can budget $300 for cleats/shoes, gloves and bats per year, $100 for uniforms, $100 for league fees and maybe $200 for miscellaneous, we’re talking $700 for a non-traveling league.

    $700 divided by 45-90 hours equals $8-$16 per hour. Seems like a reasonably cheap form of entertainment/exercise to me. And some of that stuff you bought can be used for years to come…

    My 3 year old’s dance classes, that totaled 45 minutes per week cost me a couple hundred between leotards, shoes, recital outfit, recital tickets, etc… plus $40 per month for the class. And NONE of the ‘equipment’ will be reusable next year or is available to borrow from the ‘team’. I’d guess it came out to something around $20-40 per hour of instruction+onstage recital time.

    Comment by Eric R — June 29, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  66. I think geography has a lot to do w/ this discussion as well. I grew up in SoCal, played LL, Club, HS, Juco & 4 yr college ball (& now coach at my former HS) – & even in some rough cities you see baseball fields everywhere. The game is getting expensive but I feel that in most places in SoCal most of the top athletes regardless of socioeconomic class still grow up playing baseball

    Comment by Jon — June 29, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  67. I also know that in Taiwan-Taipei kids used to be crazy about baseball, they seriously used to be playing stick ball with newspaper balls on top of buildings or in alleyways but a big corruption scandal nearly killed the sport there and lots of interest has been lost in the last 20 years.

    Comment by Chris Ferrario — June 29, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  68. I played up through college until my 84mph fastball just wasn’t enough to get batters out anymore. In those days the kid with the great arm growing up, was expected to play “organized” ball, most other kids played pick up games. It was expensive for my parents and my Dad was a welder so we were not rich. When my kids grew up, every kid no matter what skill level they brought to the game, was expected to play in an organized league. My son played roller hocky one year (very expensive) soccer the next, fairly cheap. My daughter was a cheerleader from 7th grade on and that ended up being very expensive. With dance lessons, cheer camps, cheer competitions and all the recital outfits that she only wore once were very expensive.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — June 29, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  69. I’m curious if the writer believes that poor African Americans are paying their own way to travel across the county in countless AAU basketball tournaments each summer? What about the Prep schools like Findlay? The answer is of course not, they are sponsored either by the shoe companies or by other parents. And that’s good.

    If you have talent and can help a team win, somebody will pay for those tournament costs from what I’ve experienced. Parents want to win.

    Baseball as a whole represents the demographics of the US better than any other professional sport. The only people who have a problem with it are those who believe that Whites should be cut out like they have in the NBA/NFL. Being able to hit a ball or throw hard isn’t something that should be dominated by a race or economics, and it isn’t.

    If anything, the uptick in US white teens playing baseball should be contributed to parents and teens passing on basketball and football because that is where the opportunity is to become a professional. And that is every kid’s dream regardless of race.

    Comment by Drew — June 29, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  70. It’s hardly impossible for white kids to play NFL football, but QB, OL and K are the main positions. However, the point is well taken. My 13-year-old son plays travel basketball and baseball, and while he likes basketball better he realizes his only opportunity to become a pro would be in baseball. It’s still a long shot, though, and high school basketball is a bigger deal than baseball, so he’s keeping with both.

    Comment by baycommuter — June 29, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  71. It can certainly be pricey, but it’s worth mentioning that every kid on a baseball team doesn’t have to have his own bat. There will always be some kid on the team who’s parents are buying him the newest TPX or Redline bat (I have no idea if those are still popular, but they were in the late 90′s). The other kids just have to hope that he’s not the selfish type and that he’ll let them use his bat.

    Comment by harpago17 — June 29, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  72. “If you have talent and can help a team win, somebody will pay for those tournament costs from what I’ve experienced. Parents want to win.”

    I think the point here is that those who are less fortunate financially don’t have the same opportunity to develop if they aren’t immediately more talented that every other kid from an early age. Being well off financially allows a kid to stick with the game longer if he’s not the best player right away, allowing for more late bloomers to come out of that demographic. From the lower income demographics, there are no late bloomers because they couldn’t afford to keep playing if someone else wasn’t paying their way, which the other parents wouldn’t do for a less talented player.

    Comment by harpago17 — June 29, 2012 @ 11:23 am

  73. Apparently not, which is why it’s better to ask than to assume.

    Comment by rotofan — June 29, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  74. Next to Basketball, Baseball is the cheapest sport to play of the 4 major American/Canadian sports. The biggest issue for baseball is the learning curve. Almost every kid has shot a basketball and atheletic kids can become passingly good at it in a short amount of time. Due to its variety of positions Football can accomodate almost any type of kid be they fast, coordinated, clumsy, slow, etc. Baseball on the other hand is a very difficult game for kids to learn. No matter where you play in baseball you are gonna have to catch the ball and hit the ball and those are two skills that few kids master quickly. If you havent been playing since you were 6 years old it is very hard to pick up the game when you enter high school. Also the quality of youth league coaching is extremely poor compared to that of other sports.

    As to the college baseball being a sport dominated by kids of privelege, I believe that is true. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to a Division 1 school. My parents were in the lower-middle class income range at the time and I would say every other player on the team came from a family at least twice as wealthy as ours.

    Comment by Ronin — June 29, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  75. Kids con parents into buying them unnecssary items. I played competitvely and travel ball. The only equipment I had to purchase every year was cleats – and this was mostly due to being a pitcher rather than growing – which obviously also contributed to the need. I used the same glove throughout little league and worked to purchase a new one in high school. I had a hand me down bat in little league and recieved one as a birhtday/christmas present in high school. There are numerous major leaguers who use the same glove for many years. I recall a special on a SS (can’t recall who, but want to say Vizquel or Nomar) and he had used the same glove since high school. Just had to take proper care and get it relaced and occasionaly patched.
    I disagree with paying a ton for personalized coaching. Some helps but a lot of times it leads to over use in the areas of pitching or kids just plain getting burn out on the sport.
    If the kid is good enough people will notice. In my experience some of us were fortunate enough to get picked up by better teams. We did fundraisers to cover hotel rooms so there was little out of pocket. Also, I agree with the previous commenter who said that others will let you use your bat if you are good enough and with the right group of players/parents. Also, the better teams come with better coaches.
    I also believe there is to much “travel” ball at too young of an age. I don’t know the magical age when it is appropriate but I would say junior high. There is no reason for a 9 year old to play over 100 organized games a year. Burn out and injury are more likely than future success.
    I don’t think it is cheap, but there are ways around making it super expensive.

    Comment by jschaeff23 — June 29, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  76. “I’ve never talked to one person who said their school’s baseball team was politic-free, or even just free of the over-competitive parents. Baseball parents are the worst in any sport.”

    I’m not being a martyr here, but I was cut from my HS team for this exact reason. A few of us had started on JV the year before, and the next year, we were let go because the spots were taken by a few “chosen” guys, whose parents had more clout than ours did. One guy could barely field his position, while I hit over .500 in fall ball the previous year. Sometimes it pays to have money/status.

    Comment by mcawesome — June 29, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  77. Baseball went from being the most popular sport in black America to downright invisible after integration. Funny that this never makes anybodies list.

    Comment by james wilson — June 29, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  78. That is simply incorrect. Jackie Robinson — the man who integrated the major leagues after a half-century of segregation — was one of the most important men in Black America during his ten-year career. Henry Aaron and Willie Mays inspired huge fanbases around the country.

    Integration in Major League Baseball certainly hastened the demise of the Negro Leagues. But baseball was a tremendously popular sport in African-American communities long after 1947.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 29, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  79. How much is a Tom Emanski Defensive Drills video anyway?

    Comment by samuelraphael — June 29, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  80. Don’t forget the opportunity cost of baseball games and travelling teams. Less wealthy people often have to work nights and weekends, giving their children a double whammy. Not only can their parents not afford to give them the benefits of extra coaching and better equipment, sometimes they just can’t/won’t enroll them in non-school teams because they won’t be able to get them to games or practices every single day.

    Comment by mike wants wins — June 29, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  81. The ability to do anything at a high level is a luxury good

    Comment by Cliff — June 29, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  82. I’m not convinced. Every sport has league fees, shoes/cleats, clothing, etc… Baseball only adds a $20 glove that will last 5+ years. You don’t need to buy a bat, your coach and/or teammate will always have one you can use. Soccer is actually more expensive, because you need shin guards, which you outgrow in a year or two, so the total cost exceeds that of a baseball glove.

    The only potentially prohibitive extra expense, then, is private instruction. Now, it’ more likely you will need that in baseball than in football, soccer or basketball, but I doubt the Latin American players are relying heavily on private instruction.

    I think the problem is access. The low-income housing in my home town had a basketball court and a small park that was large enough for a football/soccer game. You could play catch, but there was no way to practice batting unless you could convince your parents to drive you 10 minutes to the nearest park with an actual baseball field. The other option was to go out into the desert, but you were better off hitting rocks, because it’s really easy to lose a white ball in the desert.

    Comment by Cozar — June 29, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

  83. That may be the case soon. But for the moment, at least, natural ability doesn’t appear to be a completely market-driven commodity.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 29, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  84. I played on traveling teams as a kid. Didn’t cost my parents too much. But I practiced every day by throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall around the corner from my house (urban environment).

    I suppose if I actually kept playing into high school I would’ve been able to play somewhere in college, but my interest waned. I think most kids just need a place to bounce the ball, and some batting cages. Plus, a kid would really want to play seriously.

    Comment by Hosewalt — June 29, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

  85. Little league costs can certainly be controlled by selecting recreational teams/programs that fit your budget. But the point of the article is that once your child reaches a certain age or talent level, the expense necessary to remain competitive increase significantly. As I write this, I am in a hotel room 200 miles from home at a 16u / 18u elite tournament waiting for word on what could be our second rain out of the day. This is our second of three “travel” tpurnaments this summer, in addition to four “local” tournaments (which are still 40-50 miles from home), in addition to league games twice a week. Our team fees are $2,000, our uniforns are an additional $300, and we supply our own equipment (bbcor bat $300, two gloves for two different positions $300), and we pay for our own travel. We LOVE this life and couldn’t think of anything we’d rather be doing – and thankfully we are blessed with the ability to afford this lifestyle. But seriously, the average kid can’t possibly aford to participate – at a truly competitive level. And if you believe it is possible to be noticed by a D2 or Juco level – not to mention D1 or pros – ypu are sadly mistaken. It may not be admirable or good for the sport, but elite level baseball has most definitely evolved into a sport for the wealthy. By the way, we are once again rained out!! ???

    Comment by RGW — June 29, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  86. Little league costs can certainly be controlled by selecting recreational teams/programs that fit your budget. But the point of the article is that once your child reaches a certain age or talent level, the expense necessary to remain competitive increase significantly. As I write this, I am in a hotel room 200 miles from home at a 16u / 18u elite tournament waiting for word on what could be our second rain out of the day. This is our second of three “travel” tpurnaments this summer, in addition to four “local” tournaments (which are still 40-50 miles from home), in addition to league games twice a week. Our team fees are $2,000, our uniforns are an additional $300, and we supply our own equipment (bbcor bat $300, two gloves for two different positions $300), and we pay for our own travel. We LOVE this life and couldn’t think of anything we’d rather be doing – and thankfully we are blessed with the ability to afford this lifestyle. But seriously, the average kid can’t possibly aford to participate – at a truly competitive level. And if you believe it is possible to be noticed by a D2 or Juco level – not to mention D1 or pros – ypu are sadly mistaken. It may not be admirable or good for the sport, but elite level baseball has most definitely evolved into a sport for the wealthy. By the way, we are once again rained out!! ???

    Comment by RGW — June 29, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  87. Little league costs can certainly be controlled by selecting recreational teams/programs that fit your budget. But the point of the article is that once your child reaches a certain age or talent level, the expense necessary to remain competitive increase significantly. As I write this, I am in a hotel room 200 miles from home at a 16u / 18u elite tournament waiting for word on what could be our second rain out of the day. This is our second of three “travel” tpurnaments this summer, in addition to four “local” tournaments (which are still 40-50 miles from home), in addition to league games twice a week. Our team fees are $2,000, our uniforns are an additional $300, and we supply our own equipment (bbcor bat $300, two gloves for two different positions $300), and we pay for our own travel. We LOVE this life and couldn’t think of anything we’d rather be doing – and thankfully we are blessed with the ability to afford this lifestyle. But seriously, the average kid can’t possibly aford to participate – at a truly competitive level. And if you believe it is possible to be noticed by a D2 or Juco level – not to mention D1 or pros – ypu are sadly mistaken. It may not be admirable or good for the sport, but elite level baseball has most definitely evolved into a sport for the wealthy. By the way, we are once again rained out!! ???

    Comment by RGW — June 29, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  88. Agreed. I played baseball every year from 4 or so until 17 and the only expenses parents had were: a pair of cleats every year, a new glove every 3 or 4 years and gas to haul me (and sometimes a few of my teammates) around southeast South Dakota. There was likely a very small fee to join the team I suppose but I guarantee it wasn’t more than $30-50.

    All in all, my impression is that baseball is a very, very low priced hobby/activity for a child to get into.

    As an adult I live in the Twin Cities in MInnesota and even in a more urban setting I see baseball fields everywhere and I bring my son to one regularly. He’s not old enough for anything organized yet but I hope he is interested when he is and I have no concerns about paying for it if/when he does.

    Comment by Omman — June 29, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  89. “A blog post on CBS Moneywatch in 2009 quoted one family who paid $4000 for their 9-year old to play on a traveling baseball team, and another family who paid $8,000-$10,000 for their three daughters to play volleyball”

    These sorts of stories don’t mean anything though. They’re clearly outliers.

    I had a buddy whose parents couldn’t be bothered to even drive him to soccer. So he bought his own cleats with money he made on a paper route. He got rides from other players. Leauge dues are cheap.

    its only expensive if you want it to be.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

  90. Right, but if the kid doesn’t have fantastic natural talent, there’s no need for this sort of training.

    You don’t need to spend $10K a year so your kid can hit .325 instead of .300 in highschool, when hes not gonna get drafted unless he hits .400.

    This is exactly the problem here, every parent seems to think that their kid has it in him to be the next MLB superstar. At some point they need to realize that the kid just doesn’t have the talent.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  91. $25 in 1980, adjusted for typical inflation, is about $130 right now, so while its gone up, it hasn’t gone up as much as it initially looks like.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  92. I’ve lived in several major cities (boston, DC, chicago, baltimore), some of which were very poor areas, and I’ve never been far from a baseball field.

    This whole “there are no baseball fields in urban areas” canard is just that. A canard.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  93. “anybody who has ever played soccer can tell you that you dont need much space at all for a pickup game.”

    And anyone who has ever played baseball can tell you that you don’t need much space to play catch, or stickball, or whatever.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  94. “Being well off financially allows a kid to stick with the game longer if he’s not the best player right away,”

    I disagree here. He can stick longer, but hes going to get marginalized, and get less training. Its been show again and again and again (via surveys of birth dates, etc) that the kids who show talent first, get the most playing time, and develop quickest.

    The kids who are good as highschoolers generally were the best kids on their team in t-ball or little league. Then they got the most attention from coaches, and the most playing time.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  95. None of what you’re saying refutes what he said, Alex.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  96. Perhaps James Wilson meant integration in the broader social and legal sense, not the specific integration of baseball. If so, then I agree with him. As a small child in the late 1950s, the first conversations I ever had with black people were about baseball, and it seemed that almost everyone who was black was knowledgeable about baseball. The change between then and now is enormous.

    Comment by chris3173 — June 29, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  97. But the question is, just how much of a leg up does all that extra money buy you? How much are the kids who can’t afford more expensive options missing out on?

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 29, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  98. Perhaps I misunderstood what he meant by “after integration.” I thought he meant to analyze the change caused by integration by looking at the state of society immediately before and immediately after.

    If, however, he’s talking about the change in attitudes in the past 65 years, between 1947 and today, then certainly, I agree — baseball had much greater prominence 65 years ago, back when it was “America’s Pastime.” I’m not sure that its decline in prominence in African-American communities is that much greater than its decline in prominence in America in general.

    Comment by Alex Remington — June 29, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  99. I’ve seen travel teams proliferate through the years. Some players/teams playing 4-5 weekends from June-July (and more). Wonder what the correlation is between those children who have made a big commitment to travel baseball and whether they go on to compete in college…and maybe further. And is it different than when there weren’t so many travel teams.

    Comment by bov — June 29, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  100. From what I’ve seen, not a whole lot. For every Tim Lincecum with inhouse coaching, there’s a kid who picks up a bat in 7th grade and gets drafted 5 years later.

    Talent seems to rise to the top.

    Comment by RC — June 29, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  101. the quality of equipment certainly makes a difference. i played collegiately, and one of our relievers was adamant that buying an expensive glove made no difference. if you go and buy a $24.99 glove at target or kmart, you are going to get what you pay for. any glove less than $100 isn’t going to be of great quality. that’s just how it is. he went out to the mound and threw a meatball to the leadoff batter, got a line drive back at him, and it went straight through the webbing into centerfield. obviously this is only one anecdote, but it’s just true that you are going to have to replace a cheap glove sooner than later if you are playing at any level that is competitive…mostly due to the thousands of baseballs whapping into it during catch.

    i personally always tried to cut corners with gloves during my playing days while trying to make the transition from outfield to the infield, and each cheap infield glove i bought (even ones made by wilson, nokona, etc) always ended up breaking. i ended up splurging on a custom-made glove my sophomore season in college that lasted my last three years of baseball. there are always ways to find deals, but you truly do need to make an investment in a quality glove if you have some years left in front of you and want it to last.

    just my two cents. nothing better than the smell of a glove when you’re a statue in the outfield and your pitcher is either dealing or walking the park.

    Comment by alphadogsball — June 29, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

  102. agree 100% with your philosophy. i teach hitting lessons at a facility, and the rate that i am forced to charge for a lesson through the facility is ridiculous. if anyone asks me to do a lesson (it’s against my contract to do “outside” lessons), i will refer them to my boss because i feel bad about them spending that much. that way, it’s not up to me to persuade them to shell out $80+/hr. if a kid at my high school asks for an outside lesson, i will make sure to schedule it right after practice, and then not charge them.

    Comment by alphadogsball — June 29, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  103. Not directed at RGW, but I can’t stand when parents use terms like “select” and “elite.” When I played on these teams we just called it summer ball. With the increasing number of these “select” teams, do you really believe your kid is more special than any other? Let them have fun, call it whatever you want, but get your nose out of the air.

    Comment by jschaeff23 — June 30, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  104. Right on!! I also watched a little bit of a U14 game yesterday. At least 5 of the boys were 6′ tall and 180lbs. What happens if they stop growing and everybody else catches up…they won’t be elite any more.

    Comment by bov — June 30, 2012 @ 10:48 am

  105. I coach high school baseball for a low-income inner city school near Wash DC. While it’s true that baseball is less popular than basketball and football in communities like the one I coach in (98% black), I know that football is still the more expensive sport to play– given the required protective gear.

    Many of my student players can buy a glove and cleats for $100 total– the price of a football helmet alone. So I disagree with the notion that baseball is too expensive compared to other sports (basketball and track are the cheapest to play).

    The problem with baseball in low income communities is not that it’s too expensive, it’s that baseball is not popular. Nobody follows the sport and few understand it. I spend the first half of each varsity season simply teaching the sport– not even coaching it– teaching it (how and when to tag up; to run on dropped 3rd strikes, etc).

    Someone might be tempted to say the sport has become less popular because it’s too expensive, but when compared to football, I don’t see the argument. There’s something else happening on a larger cultural scale regarding baseball and low-income communities that deserves attention, but I don’t think it’s economically driven.

    Comment by JAK — June 30, 2012 @ 10:52 am

  106. 500 in fall ball? Sounds babip fueled to me.

    Comment by Drew — June 30, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  107. He’s not talking about change in attitudes – he’s talking about actual integration of society. Ending segregation wasn’t fully realized in public spaces till the late 60s. Private, unwritten segregation didn’t start eroding till 70′s and 80′s.

    Comment by Drew — June 30, 2012 @ 11:10 am

  108. A twenty dollar glove won’t last any five years.

    Comment by Karyn — June 30, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  109. Not sure about any of you guys but in my neighborhood just outside of Chicago we used to sell candy provided by the league to cover the expenses of playing for the season. I believe if you sold two-three boxes of candy you were good to go for the season. My mom took em’ to work and they’d be gone in a day. Play Ball!!!

    Comment by Benny "The Jet" Rodriquez — June 30, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  110. Growing up in a small town in upstate NY with a single mother of three boys (all ballplayers), we didn’t have much money for anything really. Between the three of us, we used at most 10 gloves from ages 5 to 22. They were never top of the line and were always handed down from my older brother to myself to my younger brother. Cleats, pants, and socks were handed down too. None of us every used batting gloves, or needed a first baseman’s mitt and every coach I ever had had a set of catcher’s gear for me to use. We sold candy bars to pay our little league dues or played school ball each spring, played some form of All Stars ($50 a piece) or American Legion ball ($800 a piece) every summer, and fall ball after graduating high school. I can remember buying 3 or 4 bats throughout our baseball “careers”. The three of us would all pitch in together and the cost was never more than $100 a piece. Two of us got D1 scholarships and my younger brother was scared into playing DII football instead because he was worried about his long term health due to an “awkward” delivery. I’ll say it cost $10,000 dollars for us to play baseball for our whole lives, and that still seems a little high when I add it up in my head. For 3 boys, all of whom played for 17 years or more, the grand total comes out to…

    Less than $200 annually per ballplayer!

    And we played a LOT. I mean, that’s all we did. We spent many evenings rotating pitcher, hitter, fielder. We played pickle, HR derby, double or nothing if we couldn’t get a full game together, and just plain old catch all the time.

    I don’t think baseball has become too expensive at all. All these outrageous annual expenses I see are unbelievable. This is still a sport where all you really need is a glove, bat, ball, 18 bodies and some catcher’s gear to have a game. I think a lot of people either don’t know or don’t remember that a $30-$40 glove works just as well as it’s $200 counterpart.

    If it weren’t for how cheap baseball is, we never would have enjoyed the best times we ever had.

    Comment by Meatslab — June 30, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  111. I don’t have experience with a lot of sports, but enough to know some level of cost comparisons, and enough to know that baseball is on the lower end of sports costs.

    I paid about $30 for my bat, $60 for my glove, and played for school teams that didn’t have uniform or participation fees. When comparing that to the cost for football equipment (which did have uniform fees at my school) it’s pretty minimal. Then, I take a look at the costs of lacrosse equipment – $150 each for stick and mask, then more for pads, plus the fact that it’s not a school sport in my area and local leagues have extortionate participation fees – and I feel glad I never had any interest in playing. Then again, pickup basketball games cost next to nothing.

    Contrary to the sport’s popular image, golf is one of the cheaper sports you can participate in. One of the local public courses has $9 weekday green’s fees, and you can pick up a passable set of irons at a yard sale for about $15.

    Comment by gnomez — June 30, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  112. But what if he does have the talent? Is it worth paying for?

    Comment by ppabich — June 30, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  113. sorry dude, but golf is way more expensive than all the sports described here, except for maybe hockey, la crosse, and football (with protective gear).

    it’s the only sport here that requires people to to “pay to play,” and that alone sets it way higher than baseball. If the golfer is only playing par 3 courses with 20 yr old clubs, then maybe you’re right. But I don’t know any “golfers” who do only that.

    Comment by JAK — July 1, 2012 @ 11:23 am

  114. I think some distinctions need to be made here. Hockey, if you are even trying to call yourself “good” or possible pro material, is not played at highschools. They travel, and by travel i mean cross and inter country travel. To the tune of 35-40,000+ PER YR, PER ATHLETE. Insanity. baseball has some travel expense involved too but nothing like that. Be honest folks, how many non-white kids played lil league when you/we all played? (You know, BEFORE it gets really expensive) I coach at that level now, and for years now I can say there just isn’t many. I think this expense as a racial disadvantage in baseball is a bit misplaced, the game is learned from home. Parent, for me it was granddad, or sibling, aunt, uncle…someone in your life has to introduce the basic concepts that dont show up on TV in this game. Not a shot at parenting for minorities (before someone goes apeshit), but many of these demographics talked about have parents, etc that dont know the game themselves, as many didnt grow up watching/playing as many white kids do. Work hard at involvement now, and when this generation has kids it will pass along the game and the #s wont look so glaring. Just an opinion, but it takes time to win a generation of people back. Baseball is a lot more chess than checkers…

    Comment by WahooManiac — July 2, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  115. Well $25 in 1980 is $73.25 today if I go by the CPI. And if we’re talking 1990 rather than 1980, it hasn’t even doubled, $25 then would be about $45 today. So some of those costs are going up more than inflation.

    Comment by acerimusdux — July 2, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  116. And i thought Little League was a nonprofit! Volunteer for every thing. Costs should be covered by fundraising and sponsorships not entrie fees.

    Comment by rob — February 17, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

  117. I see the private lesson kids and the travel team kids in the leauges that we compete with and the level of talent and skill sets that they possess are far surperior to the kids in our league. I am considering organizing a developmental fall ball/travel style team to get our kids on par with our competition. Why is that? Because our kids are sick of being blown out or only getting 1 at bat before we are “slaughter ruled”. The major obstacle that I will face is the cost. Umpires cost money (for fall or developmental a coach can call balls or strikes from behind the mound), field use rentals, entrance to fall ball leagues, AAU membership (covers team insurance) and maybe even hiring an assistant that has extensive baseball knowledge. The minimum cost that I can come up for our kids is around $350. But that number is going to be closer to $600 once league association fees are added.

    My parents doled out out approximately $200-$350 per year from age 12-16 for my lessons. My benefits? I had an outstanding youth and high school baseball career. I parlayed that into a decent college career. Decent college career did not equal pro contract in the early to mid 90′s, though. I coached college baseball as an assistant, and nearly 25 years since that first lesson, I do not have to spend one dime for my son to have the knowledge and basic skillset to perform at a high level. Fall ball and trwvel teams were not big in the late 80′s and early 90′s in Central VA. Now they are all the rage. If you ask me now if the money my parents spent on me was worth it, I would say “HELL YES!”.

    Back to my forming a developmental travel team. The kids are 8,9, and 10. They hate to strike out every time. They hate getting kicked in the teeth every inning. They will either see some personal improvement or quit. That is human nature. Not quitting, but the whole if something is causing you displeasure, stop doing it. By playing more games and practicing more they will get better. The lifenlessons that they will learn and develop will aid in their growth into young men.

    As for it being worth it for other kids? Ask Justin Verlander and his 9 figure contract. I predict the level of play of travel kids will allow us to enjoy extreme measures of talent at the MLB level. I also predict a resurgence of the love of baseball in the African American community. That is my opinion based on my own observations and theories that has little to do with this thread.

    I am sorry this turned into a rant. And a rant that is almost one calendar year behind the latest comment posted.

    Comment by Mike M — May 20, 2013 @ 12:28 am

  118. In my LL jurisdiction (Oakland, CA) the system is totally rigged in favor of non-poor kids.

    Between fees and additional fundraising (not including game-day duties), the local LL charges about $250 per kid. That entitles a kid to one practice and game per week.

    The local LL only uses (poorly maintained) municipal fields. The LL actually expects parents to come out on some Sunday afternoon in February to prep the fields — volunteerism which really should be performed by (overpaid) city Parks & Rec workers. You know, chartered activities such as repairing the benches and clearing trash.

    LL rules limit a kid’s geographic eligibility, so either pay up or play video games.

    Some of the smaller, wealthier hamlets nearby don’t want Oakland scum playing in their competitive, community (not LL sanctioned), White, youth BB leagues (there are political reasons also) so they charge even *higher* fees and/or explicitly bar non-residents from participating.

    If I were half the man I was 20 years ago I’d be going to court to seek an injunction against my local LL. If it wants to act like a private sports club then let it use its own funds to acquire land in which to build its own fields.

    Comment by intriguing — October 26, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

  119. $385 for house hockey here in GA. That’s before equipment even comes in to the picture. Baseball rec league is $165, which includes uniforms.
    Used equipment and picking up equipment in the off season is a good way to shave some cost. Outlets and places like TJ Max or Marshall’s for cleats also help lower cost some.

    Comment by Keith B — February 27, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

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