Lakeland Baseball is offering a discounted price for local youth to play recreational baseball.

Lakeland Baseball is offering a discounted price for local youth to play recreational baseball.

Photo provided by Brian McIsaac


Rec baseball set to return to West Bloomfield

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 21, 2021

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Last year, even recreational baseball wasn’t completely spared from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lakeland Baseball canceled its 2020 season, which was a first in its nearly 40 years of operation.

The league has been a part of life for families in the greater West Bloomfield area for decades, and Lakeland President Brian McIsaac said last year was tough.

“To not see the games going on, the families congregating, the kids having fun, the concession stand running and all those things, it was a real disappointment,” McIsaac said. “It was a hard year. … It was a real empty feeling for me, personally, and I think for a lot of our families.”

Lakeland Baseball families can reunite at a discounted price this year.

McIsaac said the typical price range is between $150 and $200, depending on the division. However, this year the “all-in tuition price” is $60.

“One of the things we decided to do as a board this year was to try and provide some help back, due to the COVID virus,” McIsaac said. “We thought (it) would be good to get the kids back out playing baseball and do it in the most cost-effective way. We decided we were going to chop the tuition prices down to basically bare bones, and only cover our costs, in terms of uniforms, umpires and such.”

McIsaac said the age range is for children 5-11 years old.

West Bloomfield resident Mark Garagiola has been involved with Lakeland for over 25 years. Among his roles, he is the head of umpires and helps get the uniforms and equipment.

Garagiola has a son in his 30s who played T-ball in the program as a child.

Garagiola shared his thoughts on this year’s discounted price.

“We looked at what our finances were and said, ‘How low can we drop it, still offer baseball and not lose money — at least break even?” Garagiola said.

From Garagiola’s perspective, the reduced price could help draw kids to a sport that may not be as top-of-mind as it has been in the past.

“Baseball’s not as popular as it once was,” he said. “There’s so many other sports and activities that these kids can get in. We needed to do something to maybe spur interest, I guess.”

Registration is expected to go through the end of April, with the start of the season being toward the latter part of May.

Children can be registered at lakelandsportsinc.com.

According to McIsaac, families can register first and pay later.

Games are set to take place at Keith Sports Park and Marshbank Park in West Bloomfield.

McIsaac said, “We shoot for two games a week,” with the season lasting five to six weeks.

McIsaac, who has been Lakeland’s president for approximately nine years, has three children in the West Bloomfield School District: a 10-year-old daughter and two teenage sons.

He expects his daughter to play with Lakeland and his boys to play travel baseball.

For McIsaac’s family and others, playing ball could go a long way toward making life seem normal again.

“From the people that I’ve talked to over the last two weeks or so, they’re really excited to have the opportunity to get their kids out there — reacclimated and back to some semblance of normalcy, in terms of the social aspects of their children,” McIsaac said. “I can tell just by my own kids and some of the parents I’ve talked to that there is a real desire to get back to the normal years that we’ve had over the past. … I think the social aspects of what has transpired has had an effect on kids — the lack of exposure to other classmates and their friends.”

Even in non-COVID times, the start of a baseball season has had a way of symbolizing a fresh start for many.

“I think even (in) a normal situation, baseball season’s kind of the rebirth of the nice weather in Michigan,” McIsaac said. “But I think there’s an added level this year. The absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

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