Take me out to the ball game.

In the District, there is only one place to see organized summer baseball: at the Banneker Recreation League.

For almost 40 years, the league has trained area high school and college players and allowed older athletes -- even former major leaguers -- one final chance to continue playing.

One player who has been through it all is Capital Rockets Manager Jimmy Williams, whose career has taken him from three American minor leagues to a Japanese World Series.

"I'd rather coach than play, so that I can pass on my baseball knowledge," said Williams, who has had to change his teaching approach because many of his athletes haven't had the fundamental training. He currently has a roster of 25 players and at times finds it difficult to play everyone.

"All my players want to play but I can only find nine to 11 that are really dedicated," he said.

Banneker Commissioner Lawrence Thomas has seen the league change over the last 35 years.

"I remember in '49 and '50 when Maury Wills played here and he wasn't the only ballplayer from this league to go to the pros," said Thomas. "There was Reggie Lee, Bubba Morton of the Detroit Tigers and Ed Icely in the mid-50s, but most recently there has been three Howard University students -- Mike Rozier, Timmy Riche, and Gerald Adams," who joined the Baltimore Orioles farm system.

Thomas says there are a couple things he would like to see happen in the league. "I would like to see the recreation department raise the infield, so the water won't sit on it; all it takes is some fresh dirt. And the lights need to be moved in the right direction for baseball."

Alexis Roberson, director of the D.C. Department of Recreation, said Banneker's lights will be adjusted in two or three weeks. He also said the city plans to renovate most of its fields within two years. But finding interest in baseball seems to be the major obstacle.

District of Columbia Coach Dr. Robert (Bobby) Frazier, who is also the Rockets' third baseman, feels the absence of a major league franchise in Washington has hurt youth interest in baseball.

"Most of the city youth can identify with a Dr. J or a Michael Jordan, but just ask them about Dwight Gooden," Frazier said.

"There are no developmental leagues in this city. If a kid is lucky he'll play some boys club and high school ball," said Frazier O'Leary, Cardozo High's coach. "It's sad. Baseball, for most young athletes, becomes their third sport."

The Banneker league plays its games between Tuesday and Thursday nights. Admission is free.