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Centerville keeps Monday night baseball

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Unlike ABC, which earlier this year lost Monday Night Football, Centerville residents will keep their Monday night baseball.

"Not only is it a dead issue," council member Francine Luczak said, "it was never a live issue."Not that prohibiting baseball, or any other recreation program, didn't have appeal among some city leaders. On Feb. 19, Mayor Frank Hirschi wrote a letter on city letterhead to the city's baseball commissioner and LDS Church leaders expressing his support for leaving Monday evenings free.

The idea was to allow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to hold family home evening, a weekly gathering for families encouraged by church leaders to be honored every Monday evening.

"As Latter-day Saints, probably all of us would follow the admonition of our prophet's declaration that Monday evenings should be kept free," Hirschi wrote in his letter to Dan Barber, commissioner of the independent Centerville Baseball Association.

To accommodate the loss of Monday nights, Hirschi suggested that Saturday afternoons could be reserved in the parks for league play. He also outlined a course of action to gain support for the prohibition, the first of which involved contacting Barber.

Even by the time of Hirschi's letter, however, the city's Parks and Recreation Committee had already halted the proposal. During a January meeting, the committee unanimously voted to recommend that the City Council continue using Monday nights for recreation programs. Additionally, they have requested that Saturday afternoons, which Hirschi had wanted to use instead of Monday nights, be reserved for recreation as well.

"We didn't see how the recreation programs could be implemented without using Monday nights," said Richard Hunt, chairman of the Parks and Recreation committee.

Hunt also pointed out that for many families, watching a child or sibling participate in a baseball game could become a family event, which adheres to the LDS church definition of family home evening.

"It doesn't mean you have to stay in the house, just that the family spends time together on that night," he said.

One other point of contention for some was that the mayor used city letterhead to express his views, which were religiously based. City officials, however, were not necessarily opposed.

"He was relaying his concerns as the elected mayor and the concerns of (LDS) Church leaders," City Manager Steve Thacker said. Approximately 85 percent of Centerville residents belong to the LDS faith.

An annual contract renewal for the use of city parks is part of the summary action calendar for the April 7 City Council meeting, Thacker said. Essentially, anything on the summary action calendar is not debated, and typically is an action - such as the renewal of a contract which the city has had for a number of years - which receives quick approval.

Two things could occur which might still kill Monday night baseball. One, the mayor or a member of the City Council could take the contract off of summary action and propose the restriction be put in place, although this won't likely happen, Thacker said.

He has contacted three council members, none of who support the idea, as well as the mayor, who Thacker said "won't touch this issue again."

Secondly, the residents could refuse to participate on Mondays.