Long Beach Fields Still A Dream

An eight year old raced toward third base.

His coach pointed toward the bag and barked out instructions, "Stay, stay, stay, stay, stay, stay, stay," the coach said.

Then he turned to the child who got that hit.

"Great hit big man, great hit," he exclaimed.

All of this took place on the smallest field at the Long Beach baseball complex -- a complex that's supposed to be demolished.

"Everybody wants something new, and everybody else has new fields," Ward 2 Alderman Jimmy Levens say. "So why can't we in Long Beach have new fields. And I think the anticipation is just wearing on people now."

Four years ago, USM Gulf Coast bought O'Malley Fields, so the Long Beach campus could expand.

Four years later, Long Beach teams are still playing at O'Malley.

Jimmy Levens is an avid baseball supporter, and an outgoing Long Beach alderman.

"It's going to happen," he confidently said. "Been out there, been on the dirt road. The land is cleared."

The land is near Daughtery Road.

That's where Harrison County agreed to build new fields and a new Long Beach recreation complex.

"Without the county's help right now, we wouldn't be able to be doing this," Levens conceded.

Mark Maxwell can't wait for them to be finished.

He coached a Long Beach team in the complex's weekend baseball tournament.

"I'm waiting for them to be there. Hopefully next season we'll be out there playing on them," he said.

The USM purchase gave Long Beach until next year to leave the baseball complex.

But supervisor Marlin Ladner said there's a chance the new fields won't be ready until 2007.

A USM spokesman said the college could extend its deadline.

That way, coaches like Mark Maxwell will have a place to play until the new complex is open.

"New fields would be awesome for Long Beach kids," he said.