04/24/2012 12:44 pm ET Updated Apr 25, 2012

Youth Baseball Costs Soar On And Off The Field

Fran Dicari, father of three, spent $11,704 on his brood's athletic endeavors in 2011.

Dicari's shopping list would dent a lot of family budgets: Nike Swingman metal cleats, $90; Ignite II Under Armour turf shoes, $60; Wilson A2000 Limited Edition glove, $250; glove restringing, $28; baseball tournament, $1,600.

But Dicari--who's mentioned in author Mark Hyman's new book "The Most Expensive Game In Town" (Beacon, $24.95)--is far from alone in his major league spending on minors.

The youth segment represents the lion's share of the $1 billion we spent on cleats and uniforms in 2010, according to a New York Times article on the commercialization of youth leagues.

The emergence of top-flight children's equipment and highly organized "travel" teams are pressuring parents to step up to the plate financially for their pee-wee sluggers to compete, the Times wrote. Free or cheap municipal leagues have declined with the economy.

But parents can combat the urge to keep up with the Joneses by playing smart, MSNBC wrote. Buy barely-used equipment for half of the retail price on eBay, Craigslist and other third-party sites, and re-sell your kids' old equipment through the same avenues. Also, realistically evaluate how motivated and talented your child is--maybe the five-year-old glove and bargain church league are enough.

Otherwise, your baseball budget will find that diamonds are not a parents' best friend. Mike May of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association said of the high prices in the Times piece: “It’s dizzying at times.”

Correction: The original headline of this story mistakenly highlighted Little League as the source of increased costs. In fact, it is the cost of participating in youth leagues that is rising.