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A Home Run in Dedication: “Littleman” Ellison honored

By ELISABETH ALTAMIRANO-SMITH/ Community Columnist

Since 1985, baseball and softball players at Jemison Youth Dixie Ball Field probably have witnessed James “Littleman” Ellison working at the park.

For the last 36 years, Ellison has volunteered to clean and repair the park at no cost. Serving numerous times on the Board of Directors, Ellison prefers to continue his service these days off the board and behind the scenes doing whatever task is needed. His service of nearly four decades will be recognized and honored May 15 at 11 a.m. at Jemison Youth Dixie Ball Field, which will be renamed “James Littleman Ellison Sports Complex” in his honor.

“He is genuine and a humble person,” Board Secretary and Treasurer Patrick Smitherman said. “We are grateful for his dedication and many years of service. He volunteers with landscaping, maintenance, working at the concession stand, picking up trash, making repairs — many times we won’t even know he is there working. We will just show up, and it will be done. He volunteers wherever there is a need.”

Ellison’s initial involvement with the park began when his two sons were playing ball at the original field located by Jemison High School (commonly referred to now as the Girl’s Softball Field).

“There was a need for an additional ball field, and we (Ellison and the Board of Directors) decided to purchase the property on Guy Street and make another field,” Ellison said. “The board went to the bank for a loan. Afterward, we built the first original concession building there.”

During the park’s creation, Ellison served as Board Vice-President, and has since served 30 years in total as the park’s president and vice president.

“Playing ball brings kids together,” Ellison said. “Staying together creates fellowship and helps build kids up to become better people. They learn things from one another. The adults that come to support them also motivate them to do better and give them a system of support. It is a blessing to be able to be with these people and fellowship together.”

Ellison has enjoyed watching his sons and grandson play ball at the park over the years but does not currently have any family that plays at the park.

“I will always continue to help in any way I can,” said Ellison. “I am thankful to the Board and families for giving me the opportunity. It is a blessing to be remembered this way. Thank you.”

The dedication on May 15 is open to the public. There will be games available. The unveiling of the new name of the park will be displayed. Light refreshments will be served after.

The park is located at 820 Guy Street, Jemison, Alabama. For more information, contact Patrick Smitherman at 205-299-1157.