When several parents were looking to begin a youth baseball league in Elsmere last year, they needed a person with coaching and administrative experience to lead the effort.

Games became president of the Community Athletic League Inc. and coaches two teams. The league had more than 200 participants this year, and Games hopes to double that in 2007.

Games' sons, Vincent (9) and Joey (14), played on teams he coached this season. His daughter, Shannon (17), played in the ECAA for eight years.

The other league officers are: Chris Hackman (vice president), Judy Christiana (treasurer), Sarah Zarate (secretary, open concessions), John Hartnett (field maintenance), Buddy Dominick (equipment), Francis Forbes (minors director), Jackie Campbell (softball director), Cisco Zarate (T-ball director).

Facing legal problems that cost its charter with the state Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken Baseball organization, the Elsmere Community Athletic Association youth league was in trouble. So a group of parents were determined to give residents of Elsmere and surrounding areas a chance to play this year.

Led by Greg Games, who served as president, and Cisco and Sarah Zarate, the parents founded the Community Athletic League for children 4 to 16. They obtained the Babe Ruth charter for their area and built their league player by player, going door to door.

The league fielded at least one team in each baseball age division, in addition to two girls softball teams, for 12-under and 16-under. Teams played at two fields in Vilone Village and two on Dover Street in Elsmere.

"We put all our fliers out in Spanish, as well [as English]," she said. "Some of our [players'] parents don't speak English, and we wanted to reach out."

"We just don't want kids doing bad stuff on the streets. We want to create opportunities for them that take the stress out of their lives," said Cisco Zarate, who was tee-ball director and coach of the 16-under softball team while two of their children, James (8) and Carly (7), played in the league. "It's a good feeling to know you are doing something good for the community youths."

"It's great, because I get to play baseball almost every day," said Jose Rodriguez, 9, a standout minor-league player from Wilmington. "I learned so much about baseball from my father and coaches here."

Eric Rodriguez attended most of his younger brother's games while their parents, Jose and Mercedes Rodriguez, operated their Wilmington grocery store.

"Jose likes to play baseball," said Eric, who will be a college senior this fall in upstate New York. "This gives him something to do worthwhile in the spring and early summer. I also have a nephew, Shayro, who plays tee-ball in the league."

"This year was such a turnaround, and I think this league will get better and better," said Kelly DiSabatino, whose son, J.D., played for the Rockhounds, coached by Games, in the minors division. "It is so much more organized. My son loves it, and sports in general.

"My mother [Beth] and Aunt Bonnie love to come out. We were here for every game. I think we have had as much fun as the kids. It's been great, and the parents have really come through."

Many of the parent leaders of CAL, including the Zarates and Games, were active in the ECAA league. Another is Joe Williams, a volunteer umpire, coach and rookie division director.

"I've been involved in Elsmere since 2002," said Williams, father of player Joey Jr., "and have been coaching eight years now. We're all here for the kids."

"We just want to see the kids have fun and play baseball together," said the father, who was the league minors director. "Plain and simple, if the kids have, I'm happy."

"This is my fourth year coming down here," said Cohen, another former ECAA active parent. "This new league is great for the kids. Francis and I knew each other from the other league and enjoy coaching together. It's a lot of fun for me and my son."

Mary Games, whose sons Vincent (9) and Joey (14) play in the league, said that she doesn't see her husband much during the season. But the benefits make it worthwhile.

"He is gone every single day and night," Mary Games said. "I'm absolutely proud of him and the league. It's been a hard battle to get things going, but this is all for the kids. If the kids are playing ball and having fun, that's what it is all about."

"We have scholarship money for families with hardships," Sarah Zarate said. "It costs about $20,000 a year to run this league. We had to get a lot of equipment, because we had nothing, and pay for insurance.

"We had 13 team sponsors. We are looking for more and more sponsors, so that one day we will be fully sponsored and all the children can play free."

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