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Parkston Rock Bass baseball team folds due to numbers

PARKSTON — The town of Parkston and the Sunshine League will have one fewer team than last year for the amateur baseball season because the Parkston Rock Bass will not be returning to the field this season.

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The decision was made after the team, which started in 2002 could not find enough players interested in playing this summer. Last season, three amatuer baseball teams came from Parkston. The Mudcats, Rock Bass and Bullheads all played in the Sunshine League, along with Dimock-Emery, Tripp-Delmont, Mitchell, Corsica/Stickney, Mount Vernon, Platte and Alexandria.

Former Rock Bass manager Dan Jervik and player Eric Maeschen said it all came down to numbers.

“There just were not enough guys interested in playing,” Jervik said. “We had some guys who had injuries and some guys who moved away. It will be a little disappointing for the town, because we always had a good rivalry with the Mudcats.”

One loss that hurt the Rock Bass was that of Billy Murtha, who was one of the Rock Bass’ oldest players. Murtha moved to Omaha, Neb. with his girlfriend. Because of the team’s folding Maeschen has decided to hang up his baseball cleats to spend time with his family. He played with the Mudcats from 1999-2004 and with the Rock Bass from 2005-2013.

“It will be a little hard not to play anymore, but now I can spend time with my family,” Maeschen said Friday. “I don’t have any hard feelings about it. I think it is kind of a good time for it to happen. I think that when it comes to Parkston, it is hard to maintain that many teams because there are kids moving on to get jobs and they don’t want to play baseball.”

With the Rock Bass now defunct, players like Tom Murtha are looking to move on to play for other teams. Mudcats manager Dave Roth confirmed Friday that Murtha had signed on to play for the Mudcats this summer. Roth added that his team was looking at signing a couple more players from the Rock Bass, but would not comment on which players they were until they had been signed.

There was also uncertainty on whether or not the Bullheads — which is made up of players at least 38 years of age — would also field a team this year. But the uncertainty was put to rest because the Bullheads contacted District 5 representative Bill Ernster Friday and alerted him that they would be playing baseball this summer. Ernster said he had heard rumors over the last few months that the teams were having a hard time fielding interest. Bullheads manager Bob Malloy said he currently has 13 guys signed, but would like to have between 16 and 20 players.

“For a small town like Parkston it is tough to get numbers for three teams,” Ernster said. “The small towns are getting smaller in numbers. There is just not the population that it used to be and that hurts the baseball. I also think the few years that Parkston didn’t have those Legion teams for awhile hurt.”

Jervik echoed the same sentiments Ernster did about the lack of a Legion baseball team. Three of the last five years Parkston Post 194 did not field a Legion baseball team. Jervik said he believed the decline interest in summer baseball is because kids have the opportunity to do many other things now.

“Baseball has a rich tradition in Parkston, but now there are more things for kids to do,” Jervik said. “There are football camps in the summer time, kids are playing basketball and some kids just don’t think it is cool to play baseball anymore.”