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MBA fundraises to give players, teams successful financial season

The Mitchell Baseball Association's expense budget is an estimated $60,000, according to MBA President Jim Larson.

But Larson said with fundraising and sponsorships from local businesses, the MBA is able to make the experience for the players as enjoyable as it can. There are six teams within the MBA, including, senior Legion, junior Legion, Black, White and spring varsity and junior varsity teams.

"We are probably one of the lower-costing programs throughout the state," Larson said. "The way that we do that is by using our fundraisers to try to keep our cost down. With the money we raise, we pay for the lodging if they are out of of town."

It costs $250 to play spring varsity baseball, $150 for junior varsity spring baseball, $600 for senior Legion, $450 for junior Legion and $350 to play for Mitchell Black or White.

Those fees are decided upon by the organization and can vary depending on the town you live in or the team you play for. For example, the registration fee to play for the Brookings senior Legion team is $400, while it costs $700 to play for Aberdeen's senior squad.

During the summer, the Mitchell senior Legion, junior Legion, Black and White teams play between three and four tournaments, which excludes the state tournaments.

The farthest MBA-sponsored trip any of the teams take is to Minneapolis, Fargo, N.D., or Omaha, Neb. Larson said the trips to those three places are normally taken by the senior Legion team, while the three lower level teams mostly play competitions in the state, traveling as far Rapid City.

For travel purposes, the MBA has a bus, which it purchased last year to go along with its van and trailer, which is used to carry team equipment. The varsity team normally travels on the bus because it has the longer trips. The three lower level teams take the van, and if they all have away games at the same time, whichever team has the farthest distance to drive usually takes the van. When teams don't take the van or bus, Mitchell baseball players are taken to games by parents.

"Since I have been involved with the board, we try to stay within regional distance," Larson said. "It starts at the varsity level and they are the only ones that takes the bus. This is our second season with the bus and it makes it a nice luxury for us to have the bus and van. We also have a very good sponsor in Vern Eide, which helps us maintain and keep our vehicles throughout the season."

The MBA receives two-thirds of its income via fundraisers. Its biggest fundraisers are its Pancake Feed, Coke Drive and the Harve Johnston/Bryan Wilson Memorial Tournament.

Larson said that hosting state tournaments helps bring in income as well and the amount of money the organization makes on a particular tournament depends on a variety of factors.

"Hosting the tournaments is a big part of our fundraising budget, but it depends on what tournament it is and how the weather is," Larson said "If we have a good tournament with good weather, we can earn anywhere from $3,000 to $7,500. But if the weather is bad and it is raining, we could lose between $5,000 and $7,000."

This year, Mitchell hosted the VFW 12U state tournament and will host the VFW 13-14 AA Majors tournament this weekend.

Through the profits of the fundraisers, the MBA is able to pay for new uniform tops for the junior Legion, Black and White teams, and provide helmets, bats and baseballs for all the teams. The price of the equipment varies from year to year, depending on how many kids there are on each roster and what brands are being used.

It is also able to pay for the hotel and meals of the players who travel tphroughout the season.

Larson said this would not be possible without the support of local businesses, the 15-member MBA board and the parents who volunteer their time to make sure everything runs smoothly.