At a small park in Pyne Poynt on the north side of Camden, N.J., kids take practice cuts on the infield dirt and adjust their hats. A small but enthusiastic crowd shouts words of encouragement, but the cheering parents and playful bench-side scuffles only momentarily disguise the troubles in the city. Baggies, vials and hypodermic needles litter the same field where practice is being held.
“Each day, our kids walk past drug sets and open air drug use,” says Bryan Morton, the North Camden Little League president.
And Morton would know. He used to sell drugs on these same streets. After a stint in prison, Morton is armed now with a master’s degree in public policy. And he’s here to revitalize youth baseball in Camden.
“What we were trying to do in the league is create these islands where kids can still be kids,” Morton says.