It takes more than a high batting average, fantastic defensive skills, or low ERA to be awarded a Babe Ruth League College Scholarship for baseball or softball. Recipients have to display the qualities that the organization stresses day in and day out: hard work, high academic grades and, above all, sportsmanship.
“It’s more than the ability,” said Mark Watkins, chairman of the Babe Ruth Alumni Association Advisory Board, about the aforementioned criteria. “It’s a combination. Are they a good citizen? We get great applicants with tremendous backgrounds.”
In 2001, the Babe Ruth League established the College Scholarship Program to provide financial assistance to former players looking to further their education beyond high school. When the Alumni Association was formed in 2012, it took over stewardship of the program, which is a source of pride for Babe Ruth’s athletes.
“When they’re 12 or 13, they’re not thinking about it, but when they’re 13 or 14, they start to,” he said. “It makes them think, ’I’m working hard to earn this.’ That’s the neat thing about it.”
Those who don’t best the competition can still apply for the Luquette Endowment Scholarship, which was established in 2014 by Luquette’s son, Gary Luquette, as well as the Jaime Horn Memorial Softball Scholarship.
The deadline for applying is June 30, and the Softball Scholarship is for September 1. For more information on the Scholarship Program, click here.
Funds for the Scholarship Program are generated from the annual Babe Ruth League Alumni Golf Outing, along with donations from Babe Ruth League partners K&K Insurance and Rawlings Sporting Goods, as well as people who want to provide their support. The Alumni Golf Outing is the biggest fundraiser of the year.
“The great thing is, we have a full house,” Watkins said of the event. “We have volunteers come in from all over the country to support our program.”
While awarding a scholarship is an important part of assisting players, the Alumni Association also helps teams and leagues that wouldn’t be able to participate due to lack of funding or catastrophic loss, such as a fire, disastrous weather, theft or vandalism.
For many small towns in America, the top place to go on the weekends is the baseball park to watch the hometown kids play. The Alumni Association understands the importance of this.
Watkins remembers when there was a devastating tornado that ripped through the Hattiesburg, Miss., area, which tore apart the baseball park for the Petal Babe Ruth League. The Alumni Association sent a donation to help Petal residents rebuild its park, which included a damaged back stop, dugout, “green monster,” equipment shed and more.
Watkins recalled the thank-you letter, which read in part, “Some talk about ‘Do we give up?’ The answer is, we want to get back to our normal life―which is going to the baseball park.”
“I thought, ‘How joyous is this?’” Watkins said. “It’s not just the monetary [amount]—it’s about giving back.”
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