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POLL: Are Kids Getting Priced Out of Baseball and Softball?

A NY Times article explores the era of the $250 baseball bat

Have you bought a baseball glove for your Little Leaguer lately? Did you pay more than $100 for it?

How about a $250 bat?

New York Times story headlined "Big Price Tags Attached to Even the Littlest Leagues," looks at the big business of equipping youngsters for participation in youth baseball and softball leagues, quoting those costs and more.

"A batting helmet protects tiny heads for $39.99," the Times reports. "A pair of Nike Jordan Black Cat cleats will make your child fast and fashionable at $51.99 until he or she outgrows them."

So what do you think? Has the cost of bats and gloves taken our kids too far from the simpler days of sandlot and playground ballgames? Or have you had better luck finding more modestly-priced equipment for them?

Leonard Vovk April 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM
It cracks me up when I read or hear about supposedly high cost of baseball, soccer, lacrosse, or cheerleading. Ask a parent who has a child or children involved in travel hockey about cost of gear and tuition.
Kathy Watson April 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM
We used to go to Good Sports to get used equipment for the kids and then trade in some old stuff they didn't use any longer. Are there any of these stores around any more? Can the rec. dept. can have a sports equipment swap day???
Joe Carelli April 24, 2012 at 05:55 PM
There are a few components that compound the problem. The different leagues have different standards regarding bat design. If a player plays in two or more different leagues, they may need two different bats with different specifications. Then, there's "keeping up with the Jones". Mr. Jones's child has a $300 bat. So, your child wants one. When it comes to actual bat performance though, the difference between a $300 or a $50 dollar bat is only a few extra feet. Does it make a difference? Rarely. Psychologically, perhaps, but only in the short run. A possible solution would be to have each team pool their money for team bats. You pay $50 or $100 and your child gets to use a $300 bat for game play. Pay it forward and pass the good bats down to the following years and the costs could drop even more. Your child is going to outgrow the bat in a year anyway.
Publicola April 24, 2012 at 11:05 PM
How about the high fees the leagues charge?
Gina Haber April 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM
The cost to join Recreation programs is too high in almost all of the towns. It doesn't give an opportunity to all children to participate in activities that could encourage more physical fitness and enhance their skills.
Ryan April 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM
@Kathy- yes- there is a store in Howell(used to be called Consignment Sports) on Route 9 that has a ton of hockey, lacrosse, baseball etc- both new and used with good prices. @Gina- as far as cost of rec programs- well they are based on cost of insurance for the team as well as the fields. Rec programs are designed to not make money. The travel teams are profit centers.
Claudia Lucey April 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM
The costs involved are compounded by the complete built-in obsolescence of these items. When we were kids, we got a glove--if it was slightly larger than our hands, we developed hand strength to snap the glove tighter in the event that the ball actually landed there. As we grew, the glove softened and in a sense, grew with us. One well-purchased glove could last a kid a number of years. Add to that the fact that, in general, we took much better care of our "dearest" items than our children do--a baseball glove left in the wet grass was punishable all sorts of nasty things. If we continue to buy one glove for every year of play, we should figure out a way that we can "share" within a town program or pass on to another program. The last thing any of us should have is equipment that is moldering in our garages. We should also change the conversation away from whether people CAN afford all this equipment to whether or not people SHOULD buy all this equipment. If I have a pair of cleats that my son grew out of in half of a season, why can't I just give them to my neighbor, whether she can afford new ones or not? Let's get back to basics and stop littering our lives with things that are viable for less than a minute.
Roberta B April 25, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Last month, the Little Silver Recreation Foundation held its third annual Rec Rack used sports equipment sale. Anyone who donates gently used equipment got a discount. A great way to save on kids' sporting goods. Sorry you missed it this year, but keep it in mind next year: www.littlesilverrf.org.
Mary April 25, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I dont think this "NY Times" article was talking to the upper middle + class in little old Monmouth County NJ.
dylf ram April 25, 2012 at 05:20 PM
you are so correct!
Fred Tuccillo April 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Due to a technical glitch, we lost the poll for this topic this morning, with the vote standing at 109 for yes to 72 for no. So we're resetting it for further participation. Meanwhile, we see there's a good discussion underway here and we invite further comment as well.
Robert P. April 26, 2012 at 12:39 AM
with the popularity of baseball going the way of boxing and horse racing. I can't blame the equipment companies making their last push, before they can't give it away.
Ryan April 26, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Baseball and softball are losing popularity to other sports which hold children's attention more- lacrosse is one of the biggest recipients of the overflow. Children nowadays find baseball to be boring. A lot of standing around and waiting as opposed to the speed and movement they find in hockey. Add into this, the early age that other sports have started offering 'travel' teams now, kids are sticking with single sport like soccer year round. Baseball used to be the recipient of overflow/cross training kids who play football then swim then baseball in the spring...now(unfortunately) you pick a single sport and play year round. There are more boys playing lacrosse in Rumson's rec program than children playing baseball and softball combined in Rumson.
Robert P. April 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Agree, Seems like the only kids that want to play baseball/solftball have parents that are directly/indirectly pushing them into the sport. These parents will have no problem spending the extra money on equipment. The equpment companies know this, and making up in loss of volume sales. In this quicker society, baseball is dead as a passtime.
Ryan April 27, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I think a lot of kids like to play lacrosse specifically because their parents DIDN'T play and don't know much about the game. It takes a lot of the parental 'stage parent' issues away.
bmo May 10, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I have coached multiple years of baseball and softball and these prices are off base. A decent youth glove runs about $35 (Louisville Slugger, Mizuno) and you can find serviceable gloves for around $25 (Wilson). IMO the best youth gloves are in the $60-$70 range (Rawlings, Slugger, Mizuno, Wilson) and should last multiple seasons. Youth Cleats are $20 to $35 for (Nike, Mizuno, NB, Under Armour). Helmets are provided by the league but you should have your own as they cost about $25 to $35 on the high end. The reason is a helmet is on par with a Rid lice treatment kit. The biggest mistake people make is buying bats which start at about $15. Cheap bats are typically too heavy for young players, to get a bat light enough you need to spend $40 to $60. The best bats are really only around $100 & you can always borrow a teammates. It really started with composite bats and a few aluminum a few years ago that had tremendous velocity and became illegal immediately. The major youth leagues have much tighter controls on the rebound rates of bats so there is more parity of performance that has nothing to do with price. So a youth glove $35 & $25 helmet that will last a player 3-4 years and $25 cleats(1 year) and a $40 bat (2 Years) is an outlay of $125 plus league fees of $50-60. Your kid should get more at least 50 hours of practice and playing time in their first season for that price. If they stick with it past 4th grade, you will be glad to invest in more equipment.

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