Until two weeks ago, it appeared the District had lost baseball again. This time, the victim was to be the Turkey Thicket high school summer baseball league.

But on June 11, Chuck Hinton, the former Washington Senators outfielder who coaches Howard University's team, intervened and saved the league from the D.C. Recreation Department's guillotine. He called D.C. Councilman Frank Smith, who called William Johnson, director of the Department of Recreation. They all agreed that the league should be preserved.

"I was very hurt and disappointed for the kids," Hinton said. "The kids need it. It's that simple. The interest is there, and the people are ready to go. Frank Lee {the playground and league director} was transferred and, since he spearheaded the league, there was no one to step forward."

With the backing of Hinton and Smith, the reborn league will begin its third summer July 1, under a new commissioner, Larry Kinney. Eight teams -- Eastern, Ballou, Roosevelt, Carroll, Cardozo, Sidwell Friends, McKinley and the Caribbeans, a combination of players from several schools -- will participate.

"I've gotten good feedback so far," Kinney said. "They {the eight teams} are sitting back and ready to go. For the older group, baseball has been going down a little lately. I'm hoping to jack some life into it."

"It's a good league because it gives kids something to do on the weekends," said Ken Lucas, a former catcher at Carroll who played at Turkey Thicket while a freshman and sophomore at the University of Delaware. "And in some cases, it keeps kids out of trouble. They would look for fun elsewhere, and that might not be the right type of fun."

Despite the league's success as the city's only high school summer league, the department of recreation decided in early April to cancel it.

Lee organized the league at Turkey Thicket playground at 10th and Michigan Ave. in 1985. He and several others felt the new league was needed because the league that then existed at the playground -- the recreation department's league for 16- to 18-year-olds -- was poorly organized and carelessly run.

"That league didn't function well, and not many kids played," Lee said. "There were over 100 guys who didn't have anything to spend their energy on. The main thing for me was getting them something to do."

Everything went smoothly during the league's first two years, according to Lee. Then the recreation department decided to drop the league and transfer Lee.

"We have a new thrust toward the little leagues," said Yates McCorkle, the District's deputy administrator for recreation centers and playgrounds. "We didn't have the money to do both. It was strictly a financial decision."

Another recreation department employee, Walter Brooks, agreed. "We felt that we were servicing the boys with the recreation department league that we already have, with over 238 teams {for players of various age groups through age 18}," Brooks said. "They can use our fields, and we thought we already had that ground {the issue of summer league baseball} covered. Also, when Mr. Lee presented the league to us, it was at no cost to us because he said he would have a sponsor. But he never got one, so we had to put out all the money."

Brooks said that the D.C. government spent $3,000 a summer buying balls, paying umpires and giving a season-ending barbeque.

Lee said there had been a miscommunication between the recreation employees.

"Brooks is wrong," Lee said. "After the league was in, I said I would try to eventually get a sponsor, but the Recreation Department would still run it. I never said for certain that I would get a sponsor."

Starting next week, the bureaucratic problems will be sent to the bullpen while the District's 16-to-18-year-old athletes get another chance to play baseball.