Minor league baseball can be tough. The players travel for hours on a bus from city to city and are miles away from home. Most of the players are not from the area where they play.
One local team is trying to make that process a little easier.
As the sounds of baseball have returned to the Mahoning Valley, from the crack of the bat, to the fans enjoying their favorite ballpark bites, Scrappers baseball returned Monday for its 15th season.
This was the first chance for fans to cheer on this year’s club. It was also a chance for this year’s parents to cheer on their kids.
“It is really nice to identify with these young men,” said host parent Charles Wern. “It is extremely nice.”
Scrappers players are given host families. The players stay with a volunteer family who cooks them food and gives them rides to where they need to go.
“When you are young [and] alone, its tough. And we just feel that they are a part of our family. They are welcome to any part of our house,” said Wern.
Hosting a player can be a lot like a poker hand. Parents said they never know what hand they are going to be dealt. And for one host parent, she gets a lot of the Latin America baseball players which can be very interesting when trying to communicate.
“We point. We do a lot of sign language. We write notes. We put post-it notes on things. We draw pictures and eventually they get it,” said host parent Gail Drushel.
Drushel does all the normal host parent duties, plus teaches a little English. But it is the overwhelming support that shines above all.
“I’ve missed nine games in 15 years,” said Drushel. “That’s all. Nine games. And we go on the road and watch the boys play. I am a huge, huge fan. I have been since I was a young kid with the Indians. I will love the Indians forever, and this is just perfect for me.”