SANTA CLARITA – Back in the ’70s when Dan Schlender played youth baseball, he and his teammates wore replicas of the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms. His dad was the coach, so the young Schlender got to pick his team – more for the look of the uniform than for the big league players who wore them. “I was the Red Sox and the Pirates ’cause they had the cool uniforms,” Schlender said. But when the spring season opened last week at the William S. Hart PONY and Softball League Complex in Valencia – the league Schlender grew up in and the one where he coached his own kids – the 2,800 girls and boys weren’t wearing the Major League knock-offs. Majestic is the same company that manufactures uniforms for the pros. “What we decided to do was put the money into higher quality jerseys instead of giving it to Major League Baseball,” Creps said. “Overall, everyone would prefer the Major Leagues, but at some point you going to have to stop paying.” The league pays about $13.10 to $19.85, plus $2 for players numbers tacked on the backs, per uniform, depending on size and style, said David Miller of Garden Grove-based Evans Sporting Goods Inc., Hart’s longtime supplier. Now Hart players, boys and girls ranging in age from 4 to 18, will wear the colors of the various professional teams but their uniform fronts will say “Hart” in script, with the Major League team name in a tail formed by the `t.’ Not everyone likes the compromise. “We’re getting a lot of complaints from parents because the new uniforms are ugly,” said Schlender, who expects his first grandchild will be a Hart player next year. But Creps said the board of directors determined that enough was enough. “We knew he would be losing his license, so we went to the board and brought some samples and showed his costs and quality compared to Majestic. There was no comparison, the cost, the quality and the principle,” Creps said. “You want the kids to be playing and having fun looking like major leaguers, but at some point it’s got to stop. We weren’t going to pay an extra 11 percent to Major League Baseball.” Hart and several other area leagues have long contracted with Evans Sporting Goods, which, after a decade, lost its MLB license two years ago, but had enough in stock to meet the demands of the 2005 youth season, co-owner Miller said. “It is wrong for youth leagues to support Major League Baseball. It should be the other way around,” Miller said. Miller, who was sued by the MLB years ago when the organization first began cracking down on licensing, said he wouldn’t mind paying royalties if the money went to a fund for kids who can’t afford to play. “It is a business, and I understand that, but the NBA looks the other way, the NFL looks the other way,” Miller said. “The bottom line is Major League Baseball wants to collect money from youth leagues.” Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The same is true this season for youth baseball leagues in Granada Hills, Simi Valley, Toluca Lake, Agoura, Sylmar, Acton and Castaic, where kids for decades have sported Dodgers, Mets, Cubs and some even those funky ’70s Astros uniforms. Major League Baseball, which charges a royalty for replica uniforms using the designs it owns, has for the last two years dealt exclusively with one manufacturer to produce the miniature game wear. For MLB, it’s a matter of controlling the quality of the products that bear its name, said Steve Armus, vice president of soft goods for professional baseball. “We love kids we, encourage them to play Little League or PONY League baseball and we know how important it is for them to emulate their heroes,” Armus said, noting a royalty-free cotton T-shirt is available for youth teams. “But at the end of the day we are a business. This is not a profitable business for us – don’t forget about all the middlemen – but it is a business. We’re not in it to gouge. We feel we’re very fair.” For the Hart League, one of the largest youth baseball/softball organizations in the nation, buying pro-style uniforms from the license-holder, Pennsylvania-based Majestic Athletic, would have tacked on an additional 11 percent cost to the annual order, equipment director Julie Creps said.