LUMBERTON — Dixie Youth Baseball has been expanding since its inception in 1955, and North Carolina State Director Carey Wrenn says the organization will continue to thrive on a local and national level.
The next step in that local development is the Dixie Youth World Series taking place at Ray Pennington Athletic Complex from July 27 to Aug. 9.
“It’s a big economic benefit to Lumberton and Robeson County,” Wrenn said. “It’s also good for our program. It gives us some exposure.”
When 61 teams in South Carolina departed Little League in 1955, the foundation for Dixie Youth was created. Those teams went on to form a league that was originally named Little Boys Baseball Inc., before being renamed to Dixie Youth Baseball around 1966.
When Wrenn became state director in 1985, the league as a whole continued to generate interest despite consolidation that took place in the years to come. North Carolina achieved one of its first major milestones with Dixie Youth when it hosted the World Series for the first time in 1979 in Leland.
The state hosted the World Series two times after that. Fayetteville hosted the event in 1985 and Moore County hosted in 2011.
This year will mark the first time North Carolina hosted the AA division as part of the World Series. The division is comprised of coach-pitch and machine-pitch teams for 7 and 8-year-olds.
Alabama, South Carolina and Texas are among the states with the highest amount of participants in Dixie Youth Baseball. Eleven states have teams playing in the organization, and North Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of participants.
North Carolina has also benefited from Dixie Youth Baseball’s scholarship program, which awards 85 $2,000 scholarships per year to high school seniors who have played in the organization at some point. The state received 14 of these scholarships this year.