Little Conch Baseball League is organized and ready for another season in the numerous diamonds lined up between Kennedy Drive and North Roosevelt Boulevard.
Clayton Sterling the complex is called and each diamond has a name attached to it to remind Conchs of the glorious past. There are a few rules here but they pretty obvious. It may surprise you, as it did me, that they boil down to nothing more than the requirement to be kind to each other.
The teams that play here go by names that might be familiar in other settings, Ramona's Conch Creations, Certified Appliance Repair, Town N Tavern, Hurricane Hole or Key West Firefighters.
Baseball is a big deal in Key West and as you might expect parents have been known to get a bit more passionate in public with louder voices than their progeny.
The businesses that support the teams get photos of eager young conchs in their red and white uniforms on the walls of the business.
As you can see, all the support they get is put to good use with nice facilities for the youngsters to play on.
Hot dogs and sodas and so forth are also sold here to raise money for the sport:
And past players are memorialized.
Familiar names spring out, especially familiar if you grew up in Key West:
Buddy Owen may have sold you a fish sandwich on Caroline Street and Boog Powell made the big leagues playing for the Baltimore Orioles. He wasn't born in Key West so locals will tell you you can't be a Conch, but in my book most people are formed in High School so to me a Conch is anyone who graduated Key West High. Being born here takes no act of will but surviving high school is definitely a life marking experience for most Americans. These days I believe he lives in Sarasota. But he started here!
Field of Memories.