Bill L’Heureux Explains Why Baseball is Still America’s Favorite Pastime

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Deciding to cancel the 2021 season for the Southern Ohio Copperheads, Athens’ summer collegiate baseball team, was a difficult one for President and Chairman of the team, Bill L’Heureux.

“We decided to cancel, even though some planning had gone in place. It wasn’t made lightly, but it’s what we had to do for the safety of our players and our fans and our staff,” said L’Heureux. “Next year will be our official 20-year anniversary, so we’re going to come back bigger and stronger — and hopefully have the best season and experience in 2022.”

Although it certainly won’t be exactly  the same as catching a game in person, on Thursday, March 18 at 9 p.m. ET, you can still get a baseball fix with WOUB-TV’s broadcast of Ken Burns’ 1994 documentary series Baseball. L’Heureux spoke to WOUB Culture about how he came to be involved with the Copperheads as well as what the team means to the larger community.

L’Heureux grew up playing baseball in the region, but his involvement with the Copperheads really dates back to around 2003, when he moved back to Athens – and especially after his children were born.

“I was always looking for something to take the kids to that was a family friendly activity, so my kids have been going to the ballparks since I had to take them in a stroller. They’ve grown up watching the Copperheads; going down to the dugout, meeting the players. They’re older now, so I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter who knows how to keep score,” L’Heureux said.

Those experiences exposed L’Heureux to “how the fans reacted to the product on the field; and I knew I had to get more involved.”

“Baseball is a funny, funny sport. Baseball is a sport that you can be really, really good at; and you can have a team that is really, really good — and still never break 500,” said L’Heureux. “There’s a little luck involved with the whole thing – you’ve got to catch lightning in a bottle.”

L’Heureux has played baseball all his life – but he said that realizing that it would never be his professional occupation was nothing short of a gift.

“Realizing that early on really gives you an amount of freedom to enjoy it later in life. When you’re around people who can throw the ball with ease with such force and velocity, and you realize you would never be able to do that — when you realize that you don’t have the ability to hit a curveball — it makes you appreciate the people who can,” said L’Heureux. “It’s been my opinion that just being able to watch these people play this game so well; with such skill — affords you the ability to enjoy it even more.”

L’Heureux said that one of the key goals that he and the rest of the people involved with the Copperheads constantly pursue is providing a meaningful, affordable summer experience for families throughout Southeast Ohio.

“In this region, you have a lot of people who can’t afford to see a larger ballgame – but they can afford to come see us. We always have lots of promotions out there to get people through the door; and especially to give kids the ability to see their first baseball game,” he said. “To some of these kids, this might as well be professional baseball game since it very much is the same experience as attending a professional baseball game.”