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Palmetto Baseball League

Growth and Development Through Sportsmanship Since 1956

History of PBL

In the Spring of 1956, Little League tryouts for the City of Columbia were held at Valley Park. Due to a very large number of little leaguers not chosen, an expansion league meeting was held at Melrose Park on Monday, May 14, 1956. Parents and children filled the seats, lined the walls and were piled outside. Due to such a large turn out, a second organizational meeting was held at Dreher High School. At that meeting, Bernard Fleishman was elected our first President, and play began in the Spring, 1956. The four team league was made up of players 8-12 years of age (no separate age divisions), and the games were played at Dreher High School.

Carolina-Civitan Field

In the Spring of 1957, Bob RobinsonBob FosterBill Childs, and Bob Clarke met with the Superintendent of the Carolina Children's Home, the late H. F. Harris, to discuss the possibility of building a little league field on the Children's Home property. The Children's Home Board accepted the proposal, and construction was scheduled.

Thanks to the Columbia Civitan Club, a sizable contribution was gifted which allowed construction to begin. Eight light poles were donated by Koppers Company of Charleston with the League paying the $165 freight charge; the lights were purchased at cost, and the installation of the poles and lights was donated by the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company. Grading of the field and laying of concrete blocks (again purchased at cost) were completed by City of Columbia employees. Cyclone fencing was purchased at cost, and the installation was donated.

Annointed the "Carolina-Civitan Field", play began with the 1958 season and the League expanded to 8 teams. Some rules from this time required each player present to play one inning, and each team was required to have at least one player from the Children's Home on the team (if available). In 1988, the "Carolina-Civitan Field" officially changed its name to the "George K. Bellinger Field".

Who is George K. Bellinger?

George K. Bellinger, known to all as "Mr. B.", was one of the original coaches in the league in 1956. He retired from active coaching in the league in 1986 - 30 years later. As legends go, George and his wife, Frances, had an agreement that if he would take her fishing any weekend she wished to go, George's free time was his to use any way he wished.

George Bellinger devoted his free time to the residents of the Carolina Children's Home, coached and counseled his little league teams, transported children in his station wagon to various children's functions (circuses, parades, sporting events), and ran errands for residents and officials at the Home. His involvement was only curtailed due to health problems.

On May 3, 1996 , Mr. Bellinger passed away. He will eternally be remembered by all who knew him. In his memory, the 1996 Palmetto League Board of Directors voted to name the newly formed All-Star tournament the "Mr. B's Invitational"

George K. Bellinger earned, and was most deserving of, having the little league field and tournament named for him.

An Independent Family Tradition

For several years, the City of Columbia Recreation Department requested the League become affiliated with the City in order for the City to use the field for playoffs, as it was considered the best field in town. The offer was never accepted and the league has always remained an independent league.

Many of the children playing in our league today are children and grandchildren of former players and/or coaches in the league and several of our current coaches and Board members played in the league.

(Information necessary to compile the above history was provided by the late Robert (Bob) Clarke, Sr., a former coach, father of two former players, father of a former coach, and grandfather of three former players.)

Mr. B. is not the only one who has given so unselfishly through the years to Palmetto Baseball. We have Board members and others who have spent 15 - 30 plus years giving their time to the children and parents of the league. With the guidance of people like Ralph Williams, Bruce Williams, Charlie Cobb, Rocky Garber, Carter Edmonds, and Furman Edmonds, we have been able to keep our tradition of consistency, required sportsmanship and fairness to all players and parents that makes our league so desirable.

Growth With Same Traditions

Due to expansion by the Children’s Home, after 48 years we were forced to leave the Children’s Home and find a new home starting with the 2005 season. The last games to be played on the Children’s Home field were the 2004 Mr. B’s Invitational Tournament games.

After an extended search for property in the Columbia area, the Board reached an agreement with the Hammond School that allowed us to build a PBL complex off Veterans Road in southeast Columbia. The new George K. Bellinger Complex, consists of 2 playing fields, dugouts, scorer’s boxes, canteen, restrooms and a playground for the younger children.

The construction of the facility was made possible only through the wonderful generosity of many individuals and businesses in Columbia and surrounding areas. The names on the fields, dugouts, scorer’s boxes, scoreboards, canteen and playground are just a sample of the type of support we received. Many others who have given so graciously wish to remain anonymous.

Coordination of this project so it would be ready for play in the 2005 season was no easy task and was accomplished only by the un-tireless efforts of a few people to whom we will always be grateful.

Grading for the new fields began in late August, 2004 and the grass was laid on October 12, 2004. The daily oversight of this project was the responsibility of Mac Love, a former PBL board member, and Keller Kissam, a former PBL board member and a Hammond School board member. Without their total commitment of time and energy, we would not have accomplished the goal of playing on these fields for the 2005 season.

New Era with Continued Traditions

The 2018 Spring Season marked the last games played at the George K. Berlinger Complex.  We were forever grateful for the time and experiences were fortunate to have on the Hammond Campus.  After another long and exhaustive search, PBL purchased property next to Heathwood Hall off of South Beltline.  

The Southeastern Freight Lines Baseball Complex was completed in enough time for the start of the Spring 2020 Season.  However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was cut short.  With extreme precautions, we were able complete the Fall 2020 Season at our state-of-the-art facility.  

We are extremely grateful for all of the time, sweat and money that has been poured into our facility which has enabled PBL to continue to strive towards our mission of “growing and developing through sportsmanship since 1956.”  Due to the aforementioned generosity of many, our mission will continue to grow in our community.

Contact Us

Palmetto Baseball League

PO Box 50502 
Columbia, South Carolina 29250

Email: [email protected]

Palmetto Baseball League

PO Box 50502 
Columbia, South Carolina 29250

Email: [email protected]
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