By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
When it comes down to it, $33 isn't a whole lot of money. It might buy a nice meal for two or fill up the gas tank of a truck. But for Bob Evans and the 333 Club, $33 can buy a ball, a bat or even a bus. A bus? Yep, a bus and a little more.
After founding the 333 Club more three years ago, Evans is looking to increase the enrollment in the fund-raising club that helps support and promote Havre youth baseball.
According to Evans, the club was started as a means to aid the funding of the Havre Youth baseball programs.
"Because youth baseball isn't affiliated with the school system, there really is no way to get funding through taxpayers," Evans said. "We started it as a fund-raising club to help out kids who want to play baseball."
Currently, the club has about to 160 members and Evans hopes to push the membership up to around 300.
"When we first started, we had great turnout," Evans said. "But we haven't had much of an increase since then. So we want to get the word out and try and get some new members."
For the small fee of $33 a year, a person can become a member of the club.
And while the donation goes directly to the overall fund, members have thechance to make their money back. The club has four annual drawings among its members for cash awards. In those drawings, three people win $60 and one member wins the "home run" drawing of a $100.
"A person can basically double what they paid in dues in one drawing," Evans said. "Obviously, not everyone is going to win, but there is that chance."
A chance is what Evans and the 333 Club is looking to provide. Because of its independent status, Havre baseball has to be self-sufficient. That revenue comes from donations, sponsorships and player fees.
Even with all that, it still isn't enough and the club is there to pick up that slack, helping out with additional expenses that make the program better for the kids.
"We helped pay for the Legion bus, mowers for the field and the lights at Legion Field," Evans said. "We're there if the programs need something extra, whether its extra equipment or maybe a meal on a big road trip. It's kind of like a reserve fund for the baseball board. There are a lot of costs that the average fan doesn't see."
But what the 333 Club really provides is the opportunity. For example, at the Legion level, players for the Comets and Northstars pay right around $300 dollars for players' fees. Without the 333 Club's donations to the Legion programs, those membership fees would rise to around $1,000.
"If we want to continue to have baseball in Havre, we need a fund-raiser like this," Evans said. "It's like a foundation to preserve baseball. We have probably 70 members from out of town. You don't have to have played baseball in Havre or have a child playing, you just have to want to help out kids."
While the purpose of the club is to raise funds, it is still a club for intents and purposes. Membership in the club not only includes a person in the four drawings, but also offers other benefits. Evans produces a club newsletter four times a year with updated information about the baseball programs and the progress of players - past and present.
"The newsletter lets people in the club know what's happening with baseball in Havre," Evans said. "We have news and memories. I only wish we'd have more members write in for it."
This year members will also be treated to a Super Bowl party provided by the club at the Community Activity Center at the Hill County Fairgrounds.
The party will feature free food, prizes and plenty of other opportunities for fun. But the party isn't just a celebration for members; it's also being used as a membership drive. The cover charge for members is $5, but that will be waived if members bring a prospective member.
"We'll have big screen TVs set up and food and other things for people," Evans said. "I hope it's a way we can bring in new members. We want to make it an annual event."
With temperatures hovering below zero and a hefty layer of snow covering the ground, baseball season seems like a far-off time, but not to Evans. The importance of baseball is a constant in his mind and the minds of club members.
"I love baseball," Evans said. "This is a way for us to continue to have a good baseball program in Havre. We're not out to break the bank. Thirty-three dollars isn't much for an entire year and it is nothing compared to what it costs for a kid to play baseball."
People interested in joining the 333 Club can contact Evans at 265-4477 or Barry Remus at 265-9505.