Babe Ruth, which was once one of the biggest and best youth sports programs in Noblesville, is not only back, it is healthy and well positioned to enjoy that success for years to come.
Babe Ruth got its start in Noblesville more than half a century ago – in 1964. The two guys who got the ball rolling were the two Dons of Noblesville baseball, Dunker and Jellison. According to an article the late, great Don Jellison wrote in The Times back in 2009, Dunker called a meeting in 1964 and that’s when and where Babe Ruth was born in Noblesville.
Jellison went on to explain that a strong board of directors stepped up, signed a loan from the old American National Bank to convert the Forest Park softball diamond into a baseball diamond and add lights.
The league got off to a slow start, but by the early 1970s hit its stride and remained strong for quite a while before tailing off again.
Fast forward to 2021. History might just be repeating itself.
Once again a strong board of directors is making a difference. Just a couple of years ago the financial statement had a definitive red color to it. Today, it’s back in the black and looking as strong as ever.
To be clear, the Noblesville organization has not always had a connection to Babe Ruth Baseball. But in 2004, that door was re-opened.
“It really gave us some structure, a rule book to follow,” former league president and current board member Mike Concannon said. “(Babe Ruth) gave us a way to set up our team, our league. It helped with all-star and post-season teams. “
But, Concannon stressed, it didn’t go from zero to hero overnight.
“We went through some tough times,” he said. “I started in 2002. It was not Babe Ruth at the time. It was a group of teams that played localized travel, for lack of a better term – meaning around the area and as far as Indianapolis.”
Concannon, by the way, was the coach who last took a Noblesville team to the Babe Ruth World Series out west. That was 10 years ago, but still remembered today.
The league dropped down to just a few teams, but Concannon said it started growing again. “We went from seven teams to three leagues – 13 only, 13 to 15 and 16-18 and got up to a couple dozen teams. Then, like a swing and a miss things just didn’t connect. There was a lack of volunteers and things just didn’t work out for a while.”
Thus the red ink.
But current board president Chris Thomas said the last year or so has really gone up.
“We are really focused on recreational baseball,” Thomas explained. “Our goal is to have a place for kids to play baseball, especially for kids from 13 to 18 years old. We don’t care if you are going to be the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft or the No. 1 kid in band camp. We just want to provide a place for kids to play baseball.”
Let’s think about that for a second.
Whether it’s Forest Park in 1964 or today, the smell of freshly cut grass, the iconic and historic grandstand, the backdrop of trees behind the diamonds . . . for a baseball fan, is there anything better?
“My focus is kind of restoring that dream,” Thomas said. “We want it to be a stable program – over the last few years we were down in sponsorships, down in volunteers. We’ve raised those levels just so those kids have a great place to play.”
And in raising them, good things have happened.
“What I’m most proud of is the volunteer board we have,” Thomas explained. “In the last 18 months we’ve replaced all the lightbulbs on the field, we replaced the sod, we got the batting cages working, we replaced the entire Logan outfield fence, we painted the grandstand for the first time in 15 years (and put fans in there). We redid the bathrooms; we sent out a survey monkey. Really, what we’ve done is listen to what our customers, the parents of our kids, have said.”
And they also went out and got sponsors. They didn’t just go around with their hand out. As Thomas said, they became better community partners.
“We’re communicating with the Parks Department more than we ever had, even with the mayor’s office and Mayor (Chris) Jensen and his team,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to be a good steward of the money, the land and be a better community partner. We had to go out in the community and tell them what our story is. We’ve been able to partner with some great partners. “
The proof is in the pudding – and not just on the balance sheet.
Last year, Thomas explained, they were able to bring about 70 percent of the 12-year-olds who were playing baseball into Babe Ruth.
“In a normal year, if we get 30 percent of the kids to come over, we are ecstatic,” he said. “We’re
The league is currently accepting sign-ups, as well as looking for more sponsors, volunteers, you name it. Opening night is April 23, when the 10-year anniversary of that World Series team will be recognized. The festivities get going at 6 p.m.

Tim Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at