Play Ball: New baseball league creating team in Laurel

Play Ball: New baseball league creating team in Laurel
Source: WDAM

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - It's time to play ball in the Pine Belt.

"We are giving them hope, we are giving them opportunity," said Coach Michael Mayden, who is spearheading the league.

The NUPBL is starting with four teams, but Mayden said there are plans to eventually grow to 16.  Other teams are set to be located in Millington, Tennessee and Texas.

Mayden said he is still scouting other locations, with the options of Hattiesburg or somewhere in Louisiana on his list.

"Being an independent professional league, you still have major league scouts that scout those leagues so we give them that opportunity to dream and hope again," Mayden said.

In the NUPBL, teams will have one manager, two coaches and 24 players per team.  Mayden said those players could make between $500-$1,200, based on experience.  Housing will be included, but a decision on that type of housing had not been determined.

"Laurel loves baseball and we're going to show it," said Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee.

To operate, Mayden said the league will depend on ticket and concession sales, as well as sponsorship opportunities.

Magee said the opportunity to have the team in Laurel will not only grow the economy, but could bring the community together.

"People that may not have made it in college, may not have been drafted, now they have a second chance to show their skills and what they can do," Magee said.  "Laurel is greatly glad to be able to work with them."

Mayden said the teams are not limited to African-American players.  The only requirement is the player must be at least 17-years-old.

"The average age has been 21, 22. We had from 30's and 40's, 36-year-olds to show up," Mayden said.  "But, may god bless them, best man win."

Tryouts begin on Saturday, October 21st at 9 a.m. at Wooten-Legion Field and go through Sunday.  For more details, click here.

The league is set to begin in the spring.  There is a 90-game schedule, split in a home and away format.  According to the NUPBL, there will be six home games a week with teams located within 250-350 miles of each other.

Officials said the team's schedule would not interfere with other teams or events that already use Wooten-Legion Field.