Little League Baseball is an experience every child that wants to should get to have. Unfortunately, some families aren't able to afford signup and equipment fees. Thanks to one former Manchester resident, area children in these circumstances will have the chance to hit the diamond this spring.
Michael Hollingsworth of Atlanta recently donated $5,000 to set up The Mickey Hollingsworth Memorial Fund in honor of his late father to help struggling families afford cleats, bats and other equipment. Hollingsworth set up the fund to honor his father's legacy of involvement in Manchester Youth Baseball.
"2019 is the 20th anniversary of [Mickey's] death and so I was trying to think of something over the holidays to do in his memory," Hollingsworth said. "Probably the most fun he ever had was coaching the Al White team. He spent a ton of time down there."
Mickey was the owner of The Athletic Shop, a sporting goods store in Manchester open from 1980 to 1990. Mickey was the coach of the Al White Motors little league team from 1980 to 1985, coaching Michael during his little league days as well.
"He loved it so much he kept coaching the team after I left," Michael explained.
In addition to his passion for coaching, Mickey was also adamant about helping less fortunate players have the gear to be able to play. Michael and his mother didn't learn the extent of this until after his father's passing.
"When he died in 1999, I started getting all these letters from people I grew up with," Michael said. "Their parents couldn't really afford their cleats or gloves or whatever and my dad gave them to them."
With this year being the 20th anniversary of Mickey's death, Michael decided this would be the best way to honor his father's memory. Michael had previously donated to the Coffee County Children's Advocacy Center and had been looking for a way to give back to the local baseball league.
The goal of the fund will be to provide uniforms, cleats, gloves and anything else a player needs to be on even level with their fellow little-leaguers. While the initial donation is $5,000, the plan is to see how much is used this season and make adjustments as they demand.
"If it turns out that there's a demand for the funds, I plan on adding to it annually," Hollingsworth said. "Depending on how things go, I may end up having a bigger idea."
For now, the initial investment is viewed as a stepping stone to hopefully creating a lasting program for Manchester Youth Baseball. Those involved in the league are already excited about what it can do for area baseball players.
"I believe it's going to be a tremendous impact for the good all the way around," Baseball Board President Jimmy Penn said. "Now, the one's that are so bashful because they don't have enough money to sign up don't have to worry about that."
In addition to helping area kids play the game, Michael is also excited to continue Mickey's impact on Manchester Youth Baseball through the fund.
"It's just nice to be able to give back," Michael said. "Dad would really be smiling about this."