DEL PASO HEIGHTS — After more than a decade of inactivity, it took all but three months to get the Grant Little League baseball program back up and running for the youth of North area of Sacramento.
After Allen Wayne Warren was elected City Councilman of Council District 2, he and Mervin Brookins Sr. quietly worked with other members of the community to re-establish an athletic program that serves to envigorate and excite area residents and young people and their peers.
Brookins, the president of the Grant Little League, told The OBSERVER that there was nothing to be bitter about the long absence of the baseball program that also serves children from Del Paso Heights.
He said now is the best time to play ball and “have fun.”
“I’m not sure what was the reason the League was dissolved,” Brookins said. “But, since Allen Warren got elected as City Councilman one of the things he wanted to do was to bring back the programs and activities we had as a youth growing up in the area.
Grant Little League was a staple at that time. So, we didn’t really waste any time worrying about what happened before. We had three months, right up to opening day, to make it happen again for the kids,” Brookins stated.
More than 250 youth, boys and girls, ages four to 13, are now a part of the League, working under the auspice, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Approximately 30 coaches volunteer their time to teach the youngsters the fundamentals of the game of baseball.
The senior team, which consists of players over the age of 13, play from League to League. Grant Little League teams primarily play at —- Del Paso Elementary School, off Norwood Avenue. The teams play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturdays, and practice after-school in between scheduled game days.
“The beauty of it is that the kids are busy each night of the week. On Wednesdays we will start tutoring at the Roberts Family Development Center and the Sacramento Food Bank,” Brookins said.
“We’re more than about baseball. That’s what Councilman Warren and I talked about,” said Brookins. “We can teach a youngster how to be a professional athlete. But, sometimes we might produce a professional athlete to be an amateur man. That’s not what we want. Therefore, a major part of the Little League’s program is academics and character development,” said Brookins.
Working on a limited time table to get the season underway, the Grant Little League was able to drum up sponsors from the City of Sacramento. Mel Rapton Honda, Game Fit, DPR Construction, 3Bs Barbershop, the Rotary Club of North Sacramento, Shell Gas Station (at 809 Arden Way) and the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.
Councilman Warren, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson are affiliates of the youth baseball league, too. The Mutual Assistance Network of Del Paso Heights, signed up as a supporter as well.
The sponsors donated from $250 to $1,500 to make sure the youth were fitted with everything they needed, including uniforms.
“Grant Little League is such a beautiful program that businesses and individuals in the community were like, ‘Whatever you need lets just get it done,” Brookins said.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” he added.
Trisha Maddox Brown, board member and treasurer for the Grant Little League, became involved with the program when her father, “Elmo” Maddox, and Ed Vinson were major contributors to the League in the 1970s and 80s.
“My dad (Elmo), who has passed away, was involved with Grant Little League for 25 years,” Ms. Maddox-Brown said. “Right up to 1989, he and Ed (Vinson) were instrumental in helping with the kids. They were like fathers outside of the kids’ homes. My dad had several teams and he took one of them to the (Little League) World Series,” she stated.
Ms. Maddox-Brown has seen a lot of athletes from the area rise up to be Major League Baseball players. She also knows how important the League is to the community.
“Grant Little League took a downside,” Maddox Brown said. “So, it was awesome to get this going again. It meant a lot to me knowing my father is just looking down, smiling, and happy. This is a big deal for the community,” she added.
The Grant Little League opened up the season with a parade that included the Grant High School Marching Band, cheerleaders, and drum majors. Coaches, families, and other dignitaries also came out.
“The street was lined with people,” Ms. Maddox-Brown said. “It was good to be a part of that. It brought back memories…a lot of memories,” she added.
The Grant Little League, diverse in nature, features children from second, third, and fourth generations. It’s just the way the North Sacramento community likes it.
League supporter Christopher Holmes took time to come out to see his five-year-old grandson, Sean Holmes, and his teammates play T-ball at the large baseball field at the Del Paso Heights Elementary School.
“It was a moment, with more to come, that will last forever,” Holmes said.
“The community is coming together,” he said. “The kids get to come out to exercise, to have fun, and to be with their families. That’s what we need back in this society…togetherness,” he added.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer