Baseball Banned For Over 100 Years In Town

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

HILDALE, Utah. — Imagine not being able to play baseball, or any sport, for over 100 years simply because of religious convictions.

That was the reality in the small community of Hildale, Utah where baseball didn’t exist until now.

Thanks to the efforts of Score International, Water Canyon High School played its first varsity baseball season in 2022.

A brief history lesson is vital to this story in order to understand why baseball and other sports were not played for over a century in this area of the country.

A small community on the border of Utah and Arizona practiced the beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church).

These people were excommunicated from the Mormon Church largely because of their refusal to abandon the practice of men having multiple wives.

Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states, but it was considered the highest degree of salvation for men in the FLDS community.

In 2002, Warren Jeffs became the leader of the FLDS Church and was treated as a prophet by its members as were previous leaders.

He reportedly accumulated 78 wives, including 24 under age. CNN reported that he had over 60 children.

Jeffs ruled with an iron fist.

He didn’t allow sports to be played and prohibited dogs, toys, television, newspapers, the internet, birthdays, Christmas celebrations, festivals, parades, camping and fishing.

He ordered women to wear specific dresses which were limited to solid pastel colors of blue, yellow, pink and white. They also were forced to make their hair in French braids that took hours to finish. He kicked out hundreds of boys from the FLDS but kept virtually all young girls.

All businesses and properties in the FLDS community were taken over by Jeffs which brought in millions a month.

Boys and young men were made to work extremely hard before the legal working age. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor assessed fines which totaled $1.96 million against members of the FLDS Church for illegally using underage kids in the workforce.

For many years, men in this polygamist sect were never prosecuted in Utah for having multiple wives. Politicians stayed away from the issue as well.

Women were treated as property and similar to cattle as a commodity.

People believed that the highest degree in the celestial Kingdom was when men had three or more wives.

Jeffs was the only person who could choose wives for males in this cult.

Every evening before families went to bed, multiple wives would line up single file to kiss their husband good night one-by-one. One lucky lady would be able to sleep with her husband each night.

Ultimately Jeffs’ downfall came when Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard clamped down on his polygamist lifestyle and was ready to prosecute him.

Jeffs went on the run and was arrested Aug. 28, 2006 in Las Vegas and extradited to Utah where he was convicted as an accomplice to two rape charges and served a 10-year sentence.

He ultimately had a massive 4-story complex built near Eldorado, Tex. which he called Yearning For Zion Ranch. Young girls were taken from their parents in Utah and driven to this complex.

On the outside, it was a beautiful white temple. But inside, numerous sex crimes were committed against underage women as 416 young girls were taken away after police raided the complex with many girls being under the age of 14.

Jeffs was then convicted of raping a 12-year-old in 2011 as he was sentenced to life in prison in Texas.

Shortly after that, Utah courts removed Jeffs and other trustees of the FLDS Church from the UEP Trust which oversaw properties in the Hildale, Utah area with a county assessed value of $110 million, according to Jeff Barlow, executive director of the UEP Trust.

The $110 million valuation of properties Jeffs controlled had a much higher market value estimated at over $300 million, according to several people Collegiate Baseball interviewed.

To read more of this story, purchase the Feb. 10, 2023 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the story explains how baseball was introduced to the small community of Hildale, Utah with the help of Score International last year as they helped kids who had never played the game before. It also focuses on an amazing coach named John Zeller who drove 2,254 miles from Florida to help kids learn the game at Water Canyon H.S. despite suffering from bone cancer.