Hartsville approves Northern League property sale
By Samantha Lyles
With nearly half a century of sports history already written, the Hartsville Northern League is starting a new chapter this fall – as landowners. By unanimous consent, Hartsville City Council approved the sale of the Northern League’s Ruby Road ballfields at a special meeting held Oct. 27. At first reading for this ordinance on Oct. 20, representatives from the Hartsville Northern League joined members of Hartsville City Council to discuss the property’s history, the positive influence organized sports has had on generations of kids, and what ownership of the facility could mean for the future of local youth baseball. “You can’t have championship teams if you don’t have the facility to bring these types of caliber of athletes here. The Hartsville Northern League is a great example of an organization that had and continues to have the foresight to initiate this type of facility and organization for the athletes past, present, and future of Hartsville,” said Mayor Mel Pennington. “Keep doing what you’re doing for the youth of Hartsville because it matters.” Sen. Gerald Malloy, a former president of the Northern League, attended the meeting and spoke to the many ways young people benefit from playing team sports. “Over 300 players per year are impacted by the Hartsville Northern League. This league teaches these students team work, dedication and work ethic that is valuable not only on the field but off the field in their homes, schools, and communities. There is no price that can be put on recreation as these experiences are invaluable to our youth and entire community,” said Malloy. Originally purchased with Soil and Water Conservation Fund grant money, the ball field property was owned by the city and used by the Northern League for recreation baseball and softball. Over the last 15 years, numerous discussions have taken place about transferring the ballpark to the Northern League, but the protected status of the land involved snarls of red tape that proved difficult to untangle. In addition to celebrating the resolution of this lengthy quest, the meetings offered a chance for the community to share their grief over the recent passing of 13 year-old Dylan Adams, who lost his battle with cancer on Oct. 18. Dylan played in the Hartsville Northern League’s Pony League, and by all accounts his love for baseball, his lively spirit, and his natural leadership will be missed by teammates and coaches alike. “Dylan was the kind of kid where both adults and other kids looked up to him. That speaks volumes about his character and the kind of person he was, both on and off the field,” said Jake Branyon, president of the Hartsville Northern League. “He was a fantastic baseball player and an even better person.” Branyon told the News & Press that while COVID-19 has caused many disruptions this year, that chaos yielded an unexpected gift: the Pony League season was delayed until summer, and that schedule change coincided with an uptick in Dylan’s prognosis that allowed him to play ball with his friends. While the league plans to confer with the Adams family on specifics, Branyon said there will be some form of remembrance of Dylan at the ballfields, so that teammates and future players can learn his story and be inspired by his love for the game. “We’re looking into ways that we can permanently honor him at our park. He was a huge presence out there, he was on two Dixie Youth World Championship teams and he had a phenomenal impact on the field, but his presence really became larger than life,” Branyon said. During the Oct. 20 Hartsville City Council meeting, all present stood and shared a moment of silence in memory of Dylan Adams. Council voted 7-0 to sell the land to the Hartsville Northern League for the sum of $1. Both parties are working toward a closing date for the property.