Carter enters roughly 17 years of involvement in youth baseball
For Elizabethton native Richard Carter, baseball has been a big part of his life for the last 17 years.
This past year, Carter took over the role of baseball commissioner for the 2-year-old Elizabethton/Carter County Youth Baseball and Softball Association.
Even though he didn’t play much baseball growing up, Carter said he has always had a love for the game. Carter would begin his current stint in the baseball world as a coach at the Boys and Girls Club league where he taught his sons, Ryne and Devon.
“Coaching my boys really drew me into to it,” said Carter. “I really enjoy working with the kids. One of the most important aspects about all of this is passing along to the kids what you have learned about the game over the years.”
In baseball, numbers play a big part as coaches try to figure out how to use a player’s stats to a team’s advantage, and that is one of Carter’s favorite things about the sport.
“I am a numbers geek,“ said Carter with a laugh. “That is one of the things I love about baseball. There are so many stats that could be used.”
As a coach, Carter said he always wanted to be a positive male role model and teach kids how to face adversity through America’s pastime.
“I wanted to impart some lessons on the kids,” said Carter. “I always told my kids to bounce back and have a short memory. I wanted them to know this is just not baseball, but it is life. Everything doesn’t always go your way, and sometimes things go against you. In baseball and in anything you have to get back up.”
Before taking over as baseball commissioner of the ECYBSA, Carter was vice president over the former Elizabethton National League, which recently combined with the Carter County American League to form the ECYBSA. The new league, which is entirely independent of both the Babe Ruth or Cal Ripken affiliations, had roughly 640 kids participate in both softball and baseball this past season.
Carter said that like with anything, the first year of the merger had its difficulties, but overall things were encouraging for the young league.
“It was tough last year, but the people were great,” said Carter. “But when you have two new leagues coming together and trying to get things off the ground, it can be difficult. The people I worked with to make this happen are great.”
The ECYBSA follows the NFHS Rule Book, but since the association doesn’t have any official affiliations, it can adjust things to best fit the needs of its players, said Carter.
“We always have our own amended set of rules that are designed for our league,” said Carter. “You know, we can’t have these boys playing on 60-foot mounds to 90-foot bases. They are too young for that, and that is one of the nice things about being independent. We don’t have a governing body over us. What we feel is best for these kids in these leagues, we can go ahead and do it.”
The ECYBSA is under the umbrella of the Elizabethton Parks and Rec, which does the upkeep on the league’s many fields that are located at Black Bottom, Lions Field, and Cat Island Park.
“Those guys do a great job,” said Carter. “They come down here every day and drag and line the field. It makes it so much easier on the coaches that they don’t have to do that. I remember when we were the old National League, we had to do all of that.”
One of the biggest draws of youth leagues is the sense of community they create in the individuals that participate. Over the years as a coach, Carter said he and his boys made a lot of friends.
“During those five to six years that we came up from machine pitch to minor, to majors, we made a lot of friends,” said Carter. “The kids, I was really close to. There were a lot of great kids and parents in that group.“
Carter said he would recommend any parent to let their kid play youth club ball due to the many benefits it provides.
“It will help you learn baseball,” said Carter. “It may help you become better as a person and a good human. You will learn about life and grow. Along with all of that, you will get physical exercise.”
And not only does Carter recommend parents let their kids play, but he also suggests the parents get involved themselves.
“We would love the involvement,” said Carter. “The more people that you have helping out, the easier it makes it on everybody. The eight years I have been in it, it is usually a handful of people that do everything. And it would be great to see more people get involved because this is a very important thing for our community.”