Youth Baseball

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

A riff between a Bonifay church and a youth baseball league has reopened.

Earlier this year News Channel 7 told you about the church trying to block the Dixie Youth League from playing games at a city owned park.

The games are on for this year, but beyond this season is another question.

H.C. Slay is a devoted grandfather that's seen three of his grand-kids play in the Dixie Youth Baseball League over the last four years.

He hopes that his youngest grandchild will have the same opportunities, "I'm so appreciative of the First Baptist Church and the City Council of Bonifay for allowing us to play. We're looking forward to the season."

The city of Bonifay owns the baseball field, but has allowed the New Life Ministries Church to manage the park for the last 13 years.

In January the church reportedly told the Dixie Youth League that it no longer wanted them using the park, citing complaints of fighting and cursing.

In February the church and the league were able to reach an agreement for this season.

For the most part, Bonifay city officials have been absent from the process.

While the city owns the park, they say, without the church's management there would be no ball park.

In other words the church calls the shots, and Dixie youth parents don't think that's fair.

"I believe in God just as much as anybody else, but I think at times the church just wants to push their weight around,” says parent Clayton Clemmons.

And the latest report is that the church plans to replace the Dixie Youth League next year with a Dizzie Dean League, which requires traveling to play other teams.

The church and Dixie youth officials have formed a committee to meet, work out their differences, and try to come up with a long term plan.

Slay hopes they do, for the sake of the kids, "They're not on the streets. They're out here playing ball and that's what we want."

Wednesday was the first day of practice for the Dixie youth players. The season is set to begin on April 8.

The American Civil Liberties Union has gotten involved in the case, and has reportedly asked for the city's records regarding possible grants and financial support for the ball park.

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