My friend lives in a close but not neighboring town that has a population of about 28,000. A good chunk of that town has lower income families. And, to be candid, there are parts of that town that have serious issues with drugs, crime and public safety.
His son and mine are the same age, both Freshmen, and play baseball. I ran into him recently and shared that our HS is having tryouts March 1st and asked him when his HS was doing it. (For a point of reference, my town has about 67,000 living here and has 2 public HS for us compared to the one public HS in his town.)
His response: Tryouts? For baseball? We don't have enough for tryouts. You sign up and you're on the team. We don't even have a freshmen team. Maybe around 4 freshmen will be trying out? They will be on the JV team. But, my son told me that there's a good chance that he will be on Varsity (as a freshmen) because he's got the size and they really don't have too many options on Varsity, according to the coach.
Related, I recently met someone who does live in a neighboring town and found out that he was involved in running the rec league there. I always thought it was a pretty good league, by reputation, and complimented him on the job that he was doing there. He corrected me and said: Four years ago, we had 500 kids playing in the league. This year, we will be lucky to get 185 playing. At this point, pretty soon, we're going to have to start pulling in kids from other towns to keep it going.
Obviously, every town is different and it's not the same issue for every one. But, I have to think there's some common threads here. Where are all the baseball players going if rec leagues are shrinking by more than 50% in less than 4 years and HS teams (in a town of near 30K) don't have enough kids to actually hold a tryout?