The backers of a new nonprofit community baseball organization are moving forward with their plans to operate a professional baseball team in Alpine that will help support youth baseball and softball activities throughout the Big Bend region.

The idea for Big Bend Community Baseball and Softball grew out of a meeting held last September, at which the idea for a new community baseball organization — with a professional team called the Alpine Cowboys at its core — was discussed.

Since then, the committee formed to create a vision for the new organization has met multiple times. The Alpine Cowboys are set to play as a member of the independent Pecos League. And according to Troy Canaba, chairman of the BBCBS board of directors, the group has gotten non-profit approval from the state.

The organization is still waiting for a response to its application for 501c3 status, and committee members hope to have an answer on that within the next few weeks.

“We’re just waiting for it to be approved by the IRS,” Canaba, who is also Alpine High School’s softball coach, said.

In short, BBCBS is ready to play ball.

What they are doing now is gathering ideas, on things like ticket prices for the Alpine Cowboys, potential funding sources for BBCBS and other factors that will go into making the organization a success with the baseball- and softball-supporting public.

The Alpine Cowboys will be a separate team from the Big Bend Cowboys, the team that played in Alpine until its league, the Continental Baseball League, folded last summer. The team will play a May-August schedule, and call historic Kokernot Field home.

While the Alpine Cowboys will be the centerpiece of BBCBS, there are many key components, said Bob Ward, a member of the BBCBS board and the organization’s liaison with the Pecos League.

“The mission and goal is not only to play professional baseball with the Alpine Cowboys,” Ward said, “but to maintain the heritage of Kokernot Field and develop these infrastructures in the communities.

“It’s not just one thing we have in mind.”

Proceeds from Cowboys’ games will support youth baseball and softball in the Big Bend area by helping with things like equipment and facilities. It’s hoped that better facilities could help bring baseball and softball tournaments to the region. Baseball and softball clinics for area youth are also planned.

“Our goal is to help out all the area around us with baseball and softball,” Canaba said, “with the understanding that we will also run the Alpine Cowboys.”

Back in September, the Memphis Redbirds were used as a model for the proposed new organization. The Redbirds, a Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, are the centerpiece of a nonprofit foundation aimed at providing and improving youth baseball opportunities in their community.

The BBCBS board of directors has created a mission statement to describe the organization’s goals. Below are excerpts from the statement:

“Local business, sports, school and community leaders have decided to build on our baseball heritage, weaving it into the fabric of life throughout the region as a non-profit community and tourism development tool. Big Bend Community Baseball and Softball (BBCBS) is the result …

“Regional corporate sponsors are needed to help fund our non-profit organization. The Alpine Cowboys staff will have only expense allowances, as will managers, coaches and trainers for the Alpine Cowboys team. Volunteers will do promotions, run concessions and clean up the facilities. A paid general manager is necessary as funds become available.

“The Alpine Cowboy team players receive an opportunity to compete publicly, a venue to build stats that reflect their skills … ”

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