Nashville team may lose practice fields

Baseball is more than a sport or a game – especially to the players and their families at the Little League Baseball World Series. For many, it’s a family tradition where character is taught and where community awareness is learned.

That’s what families of the South Nashville Little League All-Stars, representing the Southeast Region, expressed before their team’s 10-0 win Monday over the Mid-Atlantic Region team from Newark, Del.

South Nashville is in danger of losing its four practice fields because that’s where the new, expanded Tusculum Elementary School is planned to be built.

Manager Chris Mercado said he hopes Monday’s win might save the school and the league, but he still fears what may happen, saying they’ll have nowhere to go.

“We want to get the word out to get people out there looking for a place for these boys to play,” Mercado said.

In past few years, Mercado and his brother, Tim, have transformed those fields from backyard quality to high-end practice fields, drawing kids from out of the area, said Little League parent Waine Hicks. The fields are used almost daily by players for eight to nine months of the year, Hicks said.

Hicks and his wife, Sharon, were at the World Series to support his grandson Blake Money, 11, of Brentwood, Tenn. Money’s parents, Jennifer and Keith Money, and siblings, Morgan, Logan and Cash Money, were there rooting him on, as well.

Keeping the practice fields is important not just for the team, but the community, Waine Hicks said.

“It’s the cohesiveness of the community. It’s their home and they’re taking away their home field,” Hicks said. “I have no idea where they’d practice” if the fields are taken away.

Jennifer Money noted the importance of playing baseball.

“Baseball is more than a game, it teaches discipline, team efforts. … In life, you have individual challenges and group challenges,” and baseball teaches how to deal with both, Jennifer Money said.

Tiffany Preston, 47, of Nashville, Tenn., mother of Knox Preston, 12, second baseman for the team, said she has mixed feelings about the situation. While she realizes the need to expand the school to provide a better facility, she “hates to lose those four fields.”

“Baseball is such a big thing where the community and parents spend time with kids,” she said.

She hopes other land can be located for the fields, and still keep the school and the fields in the same community, as both are currently in walking distance.

Brenda Gonzalez, of Franklin, Tenn., mother of Trae McLemore, 12, a first baseman and pitcher, said the thought of losing the fields could be very discouraging for the kids.

“To see where these kids have made it this far and have it (losing the fields) even be a thought, it breaks our hearts,” Gonzalez said. “I hope these kids being seen on TV will change things around.”

Sun-Gazette reporter Chris Masse contributed to this story.