Youth leagues push back on who endorsed who for park management

The leadership of three Keizer-based youth leagues are pushing back against the assertion they in any way endorsed a plan for the For Love of the Game to manage and relocate operations at Keizer Little League Park.

A committee of city councilors, staff and volunteers recently recommended awarding a management contract to For Love of the Game, a group composed of Jerry and Lisa Walker and their son Mickey Walker. The Walkers own the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes/Mavericks League.

In a request for proposal, the Walkers stated: “Prior to submitting the proposal, we met personally with Rob Tavares, Bo Lane, Shane Diarmit, Kyle Quiring and Gerry Orlando. Personally, they were all supportive of the Sports Complex.”

Quiring, president of Keizer Little League, Diarmit, president of the Keizer Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth leagues, and Rob Tavares, president of McNary Youth Baseball all took issue with For Love of the Game claiming their endorsement.

“If my signature wasn’t on it, I didn’t endorse it,” said Quiring, referencing a letter he did sign endorsing a competing proposal submitted by a group of regional tournament organizers. That letter was included with the competing proposal.

The Keizer Little League board of directors voted to endorse the proposal by tournament organizers 5-1.

Tavares said the board of McNary Youth Baseball deadlocked over which proposal to support and did not offer an endorsement to either group. Tavares’ name is included on the letter submitted from the two other programs, but it is not signed by him.

“Them including me or McNary Youth Baseball in an endorsement is a mischaracterization,” Tavares said.

Diarmit said the leadership of Keizer Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth was offered the chance to review the For Love of the Game proposal and wanted Diarmit’s name removed from it before submitting it to the city. It wasn’t.

“What it boiled down to was West Coast Premier [whose owner would have been part of the ownership group] would have given us a portion of proceeds from the concession stand,” Diarmit said.

Diarmit said he works for West Coast Premier as a weekend tournament director in exchange for usage of fields in other areas, but that was not part of the Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth’s decision to endorse the other proposal.

Between the concession stand revenue and promises to donate what each league would have made selling individual sponsorships, Diarmit said “we would have been starting every year with $7,000 to $10,000. That’s enough for our organization to offer free baseball and softball to every kid in the city.”

The city council still needs to approve the management contract before anything moves forward.