Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Loss of Demonta Gaither

You may have seen the sad story in the news this week about the young man from Grier Heights who drowned in the pond behind Randolph Park. This is a particularly sad event for MPTLL because the young man, Demonta Gaither, was a popular player during the years he spent playing baseball in our league. Demonta played in the AL, NL, Majors (Carolina Pad) and in our Senior League. In his final season with Carolina Pad in 2007, he was selected by the Major League coaches as the recipient of the Billy Rice Award, which is given to the player whose enthusiasm and love of the game exemplify the best in Little League baseball. Demonta’s nomination for the Rice Award included the following excerpt, as written by his coach, Robert Griffin, who served as a mentor to him both during and after his time with MPTLL:
“Demonta loves the league and loves our team. He is a happy boy who likes to compete, who doesn't like to lose, but who bounces back and is eager for the next game or practice. He is interested in his teammates -- he cares about them. He is enthusiastic at all practices -- giving as much effort as he gives to games, and enjoying the competition. He pays remarkably close attention to everything going on around him. He notices the flaws in the technique of his teammates and offers encouraging suggestions to "keep your eye on the ball" or "use two hands" and stuff like that -- in a way that is positive and helpful. He notices players on the other teams, too. He may know more about the players on the other teams than anyone on our team. He's just been a wonderful part of our team for these two years. He's only a pretty good player, but the MPTLL experience has been a good one for him, and he's made the experience better for me and for his teammates.  He's already looking forward to playing at Independence Park next year. All of this comes from a boy who doesn't have a great home environment in the Grier Heights apartment where he lives.”
Demonta’s death is a tragedy. His story can be a reminder to us of the needs of so many young people in some of our nearby neighborhoods, and of the opportunities that we have to try to help them, with guidance, encouragement, friendship and love. The relationships we build with these young people are greatly important, and there is much that we can do to influence their lives in a positive way.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Picture Day - Saturday (4/5)

MPTLL Picture Day is this Saturday, April 5th. The schedule for when each team is to have their pictures taken is HERE. It is based on the revised game schedule, which has changed because of Opening Ceremonies (10:15 Sat). The updated game schedule is posted HERE. Teams are asked to arrive early for their picture time. We have over 50 teams that will be trying to have their pictures taken, so teams must be ready at their scheduled time.

Several teams are scheduled to have their pictures taken before Opening Ceremonies. This is necessary because we will have 17 MP teams preparing to play 12:00 games. So please come early before Opening Ceremonies if you are scheduled to do so. You will not have time after the ceremonies. Here are some important details to know:

Location:  The photographers will have a sign-in table and 3 stations set up on the hill above the main batting cage area at the upper fields. The soft toss nets will be closed for safety reasons.

Purchasing:  The league will provide each player an 8x10 team picture at no additional charge. The photographers will provide each coach that is in the picture an 8x10 team picture at no additional charge (up to 4 coaches). There is no need for parents to purchase those team pictures unless they want an extra one. If parents choose to purchase a package of individual pictures of their child, they will need to bring the order envelope that was distributed with uniforms and a check or credit card. Parents can also fill out and print an order form online HERE. Those players will have their individual picture taken while their team is gathered for its team picture.

Make-up Pictures: If your team will be unable to have its picture taken during its scheduled time on Saturday, you may choose to schedule a make-up time prior to your weekday game next Monday through Thursday, April 7-10. Teams are encouraged to make every effort to have their picture taken on Saturday, April 5th. Please consider that if you will be missing a player or coach during your scheduled time on Saturday, you might be missing a different player or coach next week. There could also be rainouts next week, in which case it would be difficult to find a time to have your picture taken. If your team needs to schedule a make-up picture time, please contact me at

Time Frame:  The photographers have been contracted to be on site at MPTLL only on Saturday, April 5th and Monday through Thursday, April 7-10. After that, they will be working on other jobs.

Receiving Pictures:  8x10 team pictures that are provided at no additional charge will be shipped to me and distributed at the park in a few weeks. Individual pictures or products ordered by the parents will be shipped directly to their homes in a few weeks.

Photography Company:  Classic Photography will once again be handling our team and individual pictures. We have a long-standing, solid relationship with them. If you have any issues or questions regarding an individual picture order, please contact their office at 704-423-5745. Questions regarding 8x10 team pictures should be directed to me at
We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.