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REGION — Want to play ball? Minor league baseball began in 1901. In 1903, major league baseball was started. This summer could be your debut on a new baseball team sponsored by the Shirley American Legion Post 183 (www.alpost183.com).

The Shirley American Legion Junior Baseball Team is for players who will not turn 18 anytime during 2010. The team is authorized by the Massachusetts American Legion District 5 (Middlesex County). This year, Massachusetts American Legion District 5 has created a seven-team Junior Legion program, and the hope is that next year many more Junior Legion teams will be formed. Other teams in the league this year will be Ashland, Wayland, Weston, Natick, Somerville and Malden and the teams will play each other three times with half of the 18 games at home. The home games will be at Littleton High School and thanks to the Littleton Parks and Recreation Department for their support.

The team is looking for 18 players who may come from Shirley, Ayer, and any surrounding towns, such as Littleton, Groton, Dunstable, Pepperell, Fitchburg, Leominster, Townsend, Ashby, Harvard, Acton, Boxborough and other towns too.

The team will be coached by Jim Canning, who for the past two years has managed 14- and 15-year old boys from Pepperell and Townsend who competed in the Leominster Babe Ruth League.

If you are interested in playing, contact coach Canning at jimcanning@charter.net. Game balls, helmets, jerseys, umpire fees, field fees will be provided by our generous sponsors. There will be a small participation fee for the season. Sponsorship and contributions are welcome and needed. If you wish to make a donation to the team, make your check payable to Shirley Legion Baseball and mail it to:

Shirley American Legion Junior Baseball

c/o Jim Canning

6 Lakin Street

Pepperell, MA 01463

In addition, low cost, group or private batting lessons are available with coach Canning. There are also some good batting tips on the coach’s website (www.teamgauss.com). Now is the time to go out for the team.

After an information and registration session on April 25, tryouts will be held in the second week of May. In the third week of May, the team roster will be finalized. For details about the above events, contact coach Canning at jimcanning@charter.net.