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SYLMAR : Youth League to Honor Supporter

Dick Jackson earned the nickname “Mr. SIBL” for his work as coach, umpire and mentor to thousands of children who played for the Sylmar Independent Baseball League for 34 years.

In August, the 63-year-old gives up the honorary title and heads for a new life in Tennessee. Hundreds of league members will honor Jackson today during the end-of-season awards ceremony--named Dick Jackson Day--for his longtime support of youth baseball.

“I’m sure I’ll have tears in my eyes,” said Jackson, a Sylmar resident since 1952 who is moving to live closer to relatives. “It’s very emotional.”

Jackson signed up with the league as a volunteer umpire in 1959, two years after the private, nonprofit league was founded. Since then, he has served as league president, coach, publicity and special events chairman and finance chairman. He estimated he has helped raise at least $1 million for the league.

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“It’s just something that makes you feel so good,” said Jackson, whose four sons played for the league. “I like to work with kids, that’s all.”

The league, once declared a public nuisance by a city zoning board but allowed to continue operation under certain conditions, annually attracts more than 1,000 children ages 5 to 17 who play baseball, softball and T-ball.

His last project is overseeing construction of a parking lot and roadway on the league’s 25-acre complex behind El Cariso Golf Course in Sylmar, thanks to a $50,000 allocation from the Lopez Canyon Amenities Trust Fund authorized by former Councilman Ernani Bernardi.

“I want to make sure the paving gets done,” said Jackson, who plans to work right up to his scheduled moving day Aug. 15.

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The league’s treasurer, Roberta Leos, said Jackson’s contributions to the league will be missed.

“It’s like his second love,” Leos said. “In the years I’ve known him, he’s taught me a lot and he’s always been out there to give a helping hand.”

Betty Franklin, a 40-year-Sylmar resident whose son once played for the league, said: “I think it’s a void that can never be filled. He was for the kids, by God.”


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