Beckum-Stapleton League kicks-off another baseball season with parade down King Drive
by Troy Sparks–MCJ Sports Editor
About 200 boys and girls in their Little League baseball uniforms walked down N. M.L.K. Dr. from W. Burleigh St. to the playing fields near N. 10th and Brown St., May 5, to kick off the 48th year of the Beckum-Stapleton League.
The young participants, their parents and other adults, had lots of support along the way from onlookers as they chanted the name of their teams during their approximately two-mile walk on a cloudy and slightly breezy Saturday.
The walk, which assembled on N. 5th St. near Burleigh next to the Clinton Rose Park softball field, featured players who wore their blue and white, black and gold, red and white, navy and orange and aqua and white jerseys and caps over their gray pants. They represented teams like Galilee, Bears, Brewers and Bombers.
Also on hand to witness the event were former Ald. Michael McGee Sr., Milwaukee Co. District Attorney John Chisolm, 1290 WMCS afternoon talk show host Earl Ingram, Fox 6 News and 6th District Ald. Milele Coggs, who wore a yellow baseball cap and a brown hooded jacket with the inscription, “Milele A. Coggs, 6th District Alderwoman” on the back over blue jeans. The Klements racing sausages made appearances at the starting point and at the baseball field.
This was Coggs’ second year participating in the event. She was pleased to see the parents of Little League players with their kids at the park.
“We hear so much about parents who aren’t there for their kids,” she said. “But you can see this park is full of parents who are actually involved with their children.”
Police officers from the 5th district on motorcycles led the kids down M.L.K Dr. and a Milwaukee Co. Sheriffs squad car brought up the rear. The march showed team and community solidarity and brought together a collection of parents, coaches and supporters who are instrumental in getting their kids involved in doing something constructive.
“With some of the stories we hear that are negative about young people, it is great to see so many young people doing something positive out here,” Coggs said. “The teamwork, the sportsmanship and the camaraderie that they learn being part of Little League teams I’m sure would help them do whatever great things they go on to do in life.”
James Beckum founded the league in 1964. He played for three seasons in the Negro Leagues with the East St. Louis Giants from 1954-56. The league is the longest running African-American league in the United States. In the early days, the kids played their games at various fields in Milwaukee County parks until former County Sup. Clinton Rose made Carver Park their permanent home for Little League games.
The park area north of Brown St. was renamed the James W. Beckum Park in March 2012 to honor his hard work and dedication in keeping the baseball dreams of young boys and girls alive for past, present and future generations. The Brewers Community Foundation plays a big part in the sponsorship of the league.
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