TEMPERANCE -- Roughly 35 years ago, kids in Michigan and Ohio began gathering at White Park in Temperance in the summer to play baseball.
No backstop was in place initially, so players of driving age would position their vehicles behind home plate, never caring much if an errant fastball put a dent in their door panel.
The names and faces have changed, and the fields have been modernized, but they're still playing ball at White Park. The organization responsible for keeping the tradition is called Bedford's Best Baseball, or 3B Baseball, and it is entrenched in the fabric of the community.
Spring and summer registration for children ages 6-18 began Tuesday and runs through Thursday at Bedford High School from 6-8 p.m. The organization attracts players from all over southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.
"We're hoping to provide one of the best baseball experiences around," secretary Josh Deshuk said. "We like to reach out as far as we can, that way we can have more complete teams."
Deshuk said the goal for him and the organization's 14 other board members is to constantly improve the experience of 3B and to "keep a hometown feel to it." Everyone involved is a volunteer, including president Mike Woolford and Pee-wee director Bill Zgorzelski, who were part of the group's establishment in the pre-backstop days.
A few summers ago, lights were donated so that games could be played at night.
"Lots of local businesses contribute a ton to it because, I think, a lot of people over the years, somehow or someway, were a part of 3B and they want to preserve that," Deshuk said.
Deshuk, who grew up near Cleveland and attended college at te University of Toledo, didn't have the chance to play in 3B. He wishes he did. "I tell people all the time I wish where I came from we had this organization," he said.
Deshuk said 3B is in need of coaches for the upcoming season. For more information visit its Web site, 3bbaseball.org.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo