Forest Park Little League has officially and permanently folded into the River Forest Youth Baseball and Softball organization this year, after years of declining membership.

“It was just based on a trend of numbers; we were losing a team every year,” said Dan Novak, Forest Park liaison to the River Forest league.

Last year, Novak said Forest Park had one baseball team and fielded four T-ball teams. Because students who attend private school in River Forest are able to legally play baseball in River Forest, Novak said students were advancing to the next level and leaving the village. He estimated every year the league lost about 10 kids, most of whom were elementary school age or preparing to enter middle school.

Last season, the Forest Park Little League participated in the River Forest organization on a “trial basis,” Novak said, where they had access to about 12 teams. “Having a solid committed league allows the kids to truly enjoy baseball, consistency, playing multiple teams multiple times,” Novak said.

This season, officials decided to make Forest Park’s participation permanent. They redrew the league boundaries so Forest Parkers could participate in the larger River Forest organization. Because River Forest’s fees to register cost about $60 more per player, the Forest Park league picked up the additional cost and shelled out about $2,400 for 40 players.

“We could’ve run the league this year, but with one team it’s not fair to the kids because you have to go find games in other towns and you’re playing travel teams that play year-round or are the hand-picked best,” Novak said.

“Forest Park Little League had a great run [but] registration continued to dwindle. We worked with River Forest and the Little League organization to redraw the boundaries that will allow Forest Park kids to legally play in a league that has more kids — and more kids is more fun.”

Those interested in learning more about the new league should visit Registration for this year closes Feb. 28. The Park District of Forest Park is also offering T-ball this year, which Novak called residents’ “best option” for playing the sport locally.

Nona Tepper