Youth baseball in Phenix City makes changes after 2015 controversy

Youth baseball in Phenix City makes changes after 2015 controversy

Youth Baseball in Phenix City has revamped its look, name and rules surrounding the "League" after they were told last year that they were not in compliance of certain drafting rules.

There were also allegations of people involved in the league misusing money.

Not only did they change the name from Phenix City Little League to Phenix City Youth Baseball, there's also a new President and all new board members. Their website says it's ''A New Day, A New Brand, A New Direction!".

Previously, the league only included children in Phenix City and Smiths Station but now children in Columbus are able to try out for a team.

Leading Phenix City Youth Baseball through several changes is Chris Rogers, who brings 15 years of working in youth sports.

Rogers states he leads another league locally and was recently recognized as a top 100 league in the nation. He wants to brings some of that experience into the baseball as his first year as president.

"After the way the season ended last year with a lot of accusations of impropriety use of funds, the failure for us to follow the guidelines in selecting all star teams. We decided to take another look at how we do 9-12 year-old baseball," Rogers said.

Electing all new board members and president in September, their first order of business was looking into their financial records with an audit for any misuse of money. A CPA in Phenix City cleared them of any wrongdoings.

Operating under the Little League International for several years, Rogers and the board decided to use Cal Ripken as the organization they'll play under for spring baseball.

"It's a more traditional style of baseball. It includes 50-70 base pass leading off. It the type of baseball a lot of these kids will be seeing in the junior high and high school years," said Rogers.

Also to comply with the Cal Ripkins rules of playing on a bigger field, the league used fundraiser money of $14,000 to update four fields at Idle Hour Park baseball fields.

Under Cal Ripken, Rogers says they have the freedom to create a new set of bylaws and local league rules. The bylaws are currently posted on their website.

"It includes how long board members hold office, to how teams are drafted and how all stars are selected and coaches as well," said Rogers. 
Under a different president in 2015, the league was informed by the International office they were not in compliance of drafting rules. They had distributed teams by pulling names out of a hat, and alternated players between American and National leagues every year. At the time, the league wasn't aware they were incorrect. The league was able to comply with rules and continue the season.

Rogers says everything will be different for the new season.

"There will be no team that was kept over from the season before. All kids will go back into a pool for a new draft. We want to take the politics out of it. For instance, there will be a blind draft. Which means there is no per-selected kids on any team. Nobody can individually go in and select somebody. It will be a bucket system, the kids will go into the tryout. They will be graded by the coaches and those kids after there grades will be put into separate buckets and coaches will pull from that to selected their teams.

Rogers also says the league is split into two divisions. The Minors consist of 9 and 10 year-olds, and the Majors are 11 and 12 year-olds.

We spoke with previous President Anthony Newman by phone, who said he decided not to return because he didn't have the extra time to give fully to the league. He agrees the new style of baseball will be a better fit for all involved.

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