Panorama City : Mainstream League Makes a Comeback

He bats. He throws. He catches, runs, slides and generally enjoys himself as much as any 8-year-old boy in a ballpark would.

But David Rodriguez can't hear. And that has made it tough for the San Fernando boy to be part of teams where nobody can understand sign language.

So David's mom, Sylvia Rodriguez, did what moms do. If she couldn't integrate David into their baseball leagues, she'd integrate them into his. Rodriguez began the Mainstream Sports League in 1993. It started with about 30 youngsters from the San Fernando Valley and included children with normal hearing as well as the hearing-impaired. But after some early interest, the league faded.

Now it's back, with the support of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department, which will hold open registration for the league in early January at the Panorama Recreation Center, 8600 Hazeltine Ave.

"I'm so glad this is happening," Rodriguez said. "My son has been dying to play baseball again and now maybe he'll meet up with some other kids who want to play just as bad.

"This teaches hearing and deaf kids to communicate," she added. "It bridges a lot of gaps."

Rodriguez said that if the league is a success, she'd like to help start similar programs in other parts of Los Angeles.

For registration information for the Mainstream Sports League, call (818) 893-7562. For hearing-impaired people requiring a TDD to communicate by telephone, call Rodriguez at (818) 361-0035.

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