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Baseball Losing Its Grip on Young Athletes

Jim Curtin has coached Burlington High baseball since 1960, and that includes coaching his three sons who later played college baseball. Curtin himself is the son of a baseball coach.

"When I started coaching, everybody played baseball," says Curtin, 73, a local baseball treasure who has watched the national pastime's springtime preeminence slip. Baseball now shares boys' rites of spring with lacrosse -- participation-wise, the fastest-growing team sport -- and uninterrupted basketball, soccer and hockey seasons that feed year-round specialists.

Track and tennis are going strong, too.

Faster competition for the hearts and minds of shrinking attention spans.

A Wall Street Journal story on the eve of the of the 2011 Major League Baseball season presented numbers suggesting baseball is losing its grip on America's restless youth. While baseball still has the fourth-most all-ages participants among team sports in the U.S. (about 11.5 million players) -- trailing basketball, soccer and softball -- the WSJ cited National Sporting Goods Association numbers indicating that from 2000-2009, baseball participation among kids ages 7 to 17 fell by 24 percent.

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