Sports

Central Kitsap Babe Ruth changes hands

There will be a 2010 Central Kitsap Babe Ruth baseball season, but the league is switching hands.

Husband and wife Pierre and Noel Gauweiler, the league’s president and vice president since 2005, said the amount of work required has grown and because they don’t have a child in the league they would like to pursue other interests. The Silverdale Pee Wee Adult Association, which organizes youth football, basketball and baseball leagues in Central Kitsap, will run Babe Ruth this season.

“It’s too much for two people to do because it’s gotten that big,” Pierre Gauweiler said. “This is just the time to step back.”

Central Kitsap Babe Ruth is split into two leagues based on age. There is a league for players between 13 and 15 and another league for players between 16 and 18.

There is no junior high baseball in the Central Kitsap School District, so the 13-15 league — aside from select ball — is the primary opportunity for players that age to get on the diamond.

Additionally, many teen athletes who don’t play for their school’s team turn to Babe Ruth’s 16-18 league.

“That’s why it’s so important Babe Ruth is still around,” Silverdale Pee Wee President Rich Huddleston said.

Huddleston said the Silverdale Pee Wee Board of Directors voted unanimously in December to take over Babe Ruth. Otherwise the league could have folded, Huddleston said. The association also ran the league from 2005 to 2006 until the Gauweiler’s stepped in.

Since then, however, the 13-15 league has grown to between 10 and 12 teams each season, with as many as 150 children participating. The 16-18 league has traditionally attracted enough players to field four teams.

The presence of Babe Ruth baseball, Huddleston said, is important not only because it’s an avenue for adolescents to play ball, but also because it acts as a feeder program for the high schools.

Players hone their skills — and position themselves for select-ball opportunities — by playing Babe Ruth baseball.

Neither Bremerton nor South Kitsap will have Babe Ruth leagues this season, according to Babe Ruth District 8 Commissioner Bob Fojtik, meaning teens from those areas could choose to play in Central Kitsap.

“We can’t let this slip,” Huddleston said. “The high-school programs can’t survive without it.”

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