Unless you have a youngster participating in the youth baseball programs throughout the area, you probably don't realize some of the great facilities that exist.

Borough council members, township supervisors, school board members, organizations, and individual volunteers have created what amounts to fields of dreams for budding young players.

Franklin Township has its Christman Fields and Phifer's Ice Dam fields which are fantastic for youngsters of all ages.

Lansford takes great care of its Little League fields, nestled along the wood-side off Route 209.

In the tiny borough of Weatherly, the little league fields are on equal footing with the high school fields.

Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, and Towamensing Township have fields that make many towns envious.

We haven't visited the fields in every community, so there are a lot of wonderful fields that we haven't mentioned.

The point is, our local young baseball stars are being given great resources on which to hone their skills. Add the volunteer coaches, first-class equipment, and the support seen from their parents and relatives and the deduction is we can all be proud.

A few generations ago, playing baseball meant finding any open field, getting a group of friends together, and putting together a game.

Things have changed. Today emphasis is on learning the fundamentals and exercising safety.

Today's fields are well manicured, kept free of debris, and provide a safe environment for participating youngsters.

We hear so much about young people and drugs and about the negatives of the area. Our baseball fields are such positives.

The baseball facilities for our youth are among the best you'll find anywhere.

There's a lot of work involved in keeping them looking so well. A lot of people deserve the proverbial pat on the back for the upkeep and improvements which keep them so pristine.

Hopefully, our children's children will enjoy these same such luxuries.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com