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Field issue never a moot point in Freeport

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Freeport International Baseball Invitational is less then a month away.

The International committee, which has run the popular youth baseball event for the past eight years, and members of the Freeport Baseball Association, which called Freeport Community Park home, have made it clear they will not shake hands and share the Freeport Community Park Field in late July.

They have parted ways.

Why?

Jeff Christy would like to know. After all, Christy's annual golf tournament raises funds for the Freeport Baseball Association. The event has grossed more than $110,000 (before this year) for the Freeport Baseball Association, with the majority of that money getting pumped into the community field -- note the $30,000 scoreboard and 50-foot dugouts.

So, why can't the sleek, renovated ballpark, which has hosted International games before, host them this year?

Why can't a high-quality field feature games during Freeport's hands-across-the-world event?

The issue was reintroduced during the 5th annual Jeff Christy All-Pro Open charity golf outing Friday morning at Pittsburgh North Golf Club.

"I don't think in terms of myself," Christy said. "Obviously, there is some history there (between the two organizations). I don't know who is right and who is wrong. All I know is both parties have shown 110 percent devotion to the kids in trying to make them better baseball players and human beings.

"It doesn't make much sense that they wouldn't use that field during an event like (the Freeport Invitational)."

And there is no simple answer as to why.

The point of the issue may be moot. People will soon have to realize the two sides will never see eye to eye. The field issue may fade into memory, but the two parties have deep-rooted matters that can only be settled among themselves.

Whatever it is keeping a Freeport field vacant during the Freeport Invitational, we may not want to know.

We may not care to know.

"I wish we had an event like (the Freeport Invitational) when I was growing up," Christy said.

The best thing to do the week of the International is to forget the feud and focus on baseball. Sure, foreign players will wonder why the "field up on the hill" isn't being used and Springdale High School is.

The players may be told the truth, or, they may be flat out lied to. But does it really matter?

Does it matter who's right and who's wrong• Is it our problem, or theirs?

"Arguing over a field• Whatever the case, it's a travesty to them," Christy said of the two sides. "It's all ridiculous."

There is a bright side to all of the finger pointing and he-said, she-saids that have echoed through Freeport the past three years. No human beings -- particularly young baseball players -- will suffer.

Freeport Baseball Association teams -- Colt, Jr. Legion, Sr. Legion -- have been invited to play in the International, and most of them will participate. So they should.

The only loser in the end is the lonely field on top the hill -- the field that has received its share of the $110,000 raised from a most successful golf event.

It seems strange that groups only streets apart cannot get along for even one week per year, yet teams from Japan can crack high-fives with strangers from across the globe.

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