- Allison Goldsberry
Medford’s three Little League programs- Medford National, West Medford Hillside, and North Medford- are moving forward with plans to form one league, according to league officials.
Representatives from each league are meeting to plan the new league and have to submit paperwork to Little League International, such as a constitution, by-laws, and articles of organization, according to West Medford Hillside Little League (WMHLL) president John D’Orazio.
According to D’Orazio, the three leagues are hoping for a merger to be in effect for the 2013 season. If their plan isn’t approved by Little League International, the leagues plan on acting in unison as much as possible, said D’Orazio. For example, registration fees will be the same, joint clinics will be held, and inter-league play will continue.
“That’s the thing, we’re all Medford. It doesn’t really matter where you live in the city,” said D’Orazio. “The kids should have a great Little League program.”
D’Orazio said registration for all three leagues will take place in one central place online, and players will be organized by street address.
Dave Barnes, president of the Medford National Little League, is optimistic Medford’s merger plan will be approved.
“I believe Little League will see this as a good thing we are doing. I doubt they will reject our proposal,” said Barnes.
Medford High School baseball coach Mike Nestor has been in favor of a merger for several years. There are many advantages to such a plan, he said, including consistency in coaching, better competition, easier park management, and fewer competing clinics.
“I’m glad it’s coming to this…they’re doing it for the kids,” said Medford High School Baseball Coach Mike Nestor. “In the end, this merger opens up a lot of avenues in the city for baseball.”
Nestor and D’Orazio both acknowledged that participation in baseball has declined over the past few years, and they hope one league will be a stronger feeder system that “keeps kids interested” and has them playing at the appropriate age and ability levels.
On Saturday, January 12 the three leagues are hosting a skills clinic for children ages 5-12. The clinic is taking place from 8-11AM at Cousen’s Gym at Tufts University.
In 2008, two of Medford’s five little league teams merged into one league, the Medford National Little League. The merger combined the South Medford and Wellington Glenwood Little League teams, and came after years of discussion.