Ivor on unfamiliar ground: Baseball diamond

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

IVOR—Jay Billups, 33, a resident of Ivor, never played baseball in his hometown. That’s because Ivor did not have a little league program.

This year, however, Ivor has youth league baseball for the first time in a long time, so long that the people involved in restarting the program are not really sure how long it’s been.

Billups and Tara Kea did not want the same thing to happen to their kids. They were instrumental in getting baseball back in Ivor this spring.

“We played in Sedley, but we saw so many kids from our area playing in other areas, we thought we could get this started here in the Ivor community. Tara talked me into it,” he said. “The whole community has been behind us.”

“I grew up in Sedley and played ball in Sedley. I figured if we are going to live here, my children should have somewhere to play ball,” Kea said. “There was obviously a need. The very first game, they were parking cars because people were coming out of the wood work.”

Kea said the Ivor Athletic Association has had 60 players on four teams this spring, including T-ball, coach pitch, Mustang and Bronco divisions in the Southampton-Sussex Pony League. Kea said that Ivor was one of the original charter teams in the league, but dropped out of the league at some point, at least 25 years ago.

“For our first year out, we were thrilled because we thought we would just have T-ball and coach pitch,” she said.

Billups said the teams have struggled with wins and losses, which was expected for a startup program.

“It’s been a long year. The older kids have not won a game, but you get parents who come up and say, ‘My kid has been into this and how they like to play,’” he said. “Things like that really pick

you up. We knew it would be a rough start.”

Kea said she is more impressed with the player’s attitudes than wins and losses.

“We’ve been places where it’s all about winning, and that’s fine, however they want to run it,” she said while getting ready to open the concession stand. “If we don’t ever win a game, and act the way they have on and off the field with the attitudes they have had, I couldn’t really care. They are playing because they love the game.”

The league hopes to continue with fall ball later this year. “We want to carry all four teams. A lot of Bronco kids are moving up to Pony next year, so we could have five teams,” he said.

“There have been kids I’ve never seen before. We hope to have 20 to 30 more next year,” Kea added.

Billups, who along with Kea are also coaches, said the league could not have started up without sponsorships and support from the community.

“If it weren’t for the people in town, the parents, and businesses in town, then it would have been real tight,” Billups said.

The bright orange jerseys and big “I’s” on the ballcaps signify that Ivor is back in the ball game.