Rapid City's Little League success has another South Dakota city seething
In most things South Dakota, Sioux Falls is king. It’s the biggest city in the state and one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States, thanks to your credit card payments. It’s in the politically dominant East River, as in the part of South Dakota east of the Missouri River. But when it comes to baseball, Sioux Falls is constantly in the shadow of smaller, more hickish, West River Rapid City.
As another Rapid City team makes its way to the Central Region finals of the Little League national tournament (this time it’s Harney, which beat Rapid City’s Canyon Lake, the team that in 2008 became South Dakota’s first representative in the Little League World Series), Sioux Falls has had it with those Black Hills bucketheads stealing all the attention. If Rapid City’s 12-year-olds are on ESPN, the rest of the nation might think they’re better, smarter and cuter than the ones in Sioux Falls!
So for some, the Sioux Falls Empire Baseball Association, the existing, independent league, wasn’t good enough. A few coaches petitioned to start a Little League-affiliated circuit in Sioux Falls (to be fair, so did parents and coaches in other South Dakota cities). Matt Richardson, an assistant coach who is one of the people behind the effort, made no bones about not wanting to play second fiddle to those mouth-breathers across the state: “We are the largest city in South Dakota. We only think it’s fair that we have Little League baseball, because we have just as good, if not better, talent in Sioux Falls than Rapid City has.”
Alas, it’s not so simple to start a Little League circuit. Getting affiliation with the national organization is the easy part. Winning over the hearts and minds of the locals, and field time from the local park district, is hard. The Sioux Falls Park Board is still having the new Little League jump through hoops to show what it makes it so different that it should get precious diamond space at the possible expense of Empire baseball. In February, a few months after the effort started, things were already so bad the local Argus-Leader ran a can’t-we-all-just-get-along editorial.
While Sioux City stews (Stioux City?), Harney is basking in the glory of putting Rapid City on the map, again, by representing how well the state produces and exploits ball-tossing, stick-wielding 11- and 12-year-olds. Suck it, Sioux City!