Taylor to host top Junior League teams for 32nd tourney


JLWS comes to Taylor
Photo courtesy Dave Gorgon
The on field celebration (above) brought an end to last year’s Junior League World Series, a competition featuring some of the best 13- and 14-year-old players from around the globe. The competition is ready to begin again at Heritage Park on Sunday, Aug. 12, the 32nd time Taylor will host the Series.

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – In a game of numbers, it’s four down, six to go as teen baseball players compete for spots in the Junior League World Series, a seven-day tournament featuring some of the world’s best 13- and 14-year-old players.

In local terms, Taylor’s hosting of the tournament for 32 years is the second-longest run of any of the eight competitions under Little League International; only the landmark Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. has enjoyed a lengthier host.

David Gorgon, Junior League World Series Communications Director, said the event has earned its place both for youth baseball and the city as he prepares for the Aug. 12 – 18 tournament at Heritage Park.

“With our many volunteers we’ve been able to retain the Series all these years,” Gorgon said. “It’s a fun event to go to. It’s very affordable, it’s close from anywhere in metro Detroit, the seats are all great and you see high quality competition.”

Gorgon did not exaggerate the level of play. The concluding championship game is aired nationally on ESPN, and former players from the JLWS include several Major League Baseball players, National Hockey League hockey players and college football scholarship recipients.

“You’ll see some great baseball,” Grogan said, “and you never know where they may end up.”

Four international teams have already qualified, with teams from Aruba, Chinese Tapei, Italy and Mexico awaiting the results of six tournaments that began last week: Five in the U.S. and a Canadian competition.

Gorgon said the event truly qualifies as a “World” series, and that a cultural exchange through sports is part of the tournament’s legacy. It will be the third appearance of a team from Chinese Tapei, a team from Tainan City that took the Asia-Pacific championship; players from the region claimed victory in the past two JLWS tournaments. Italian players have become frequent visitors to Downriver, as have young athletes from Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The tournament begins Saturday with 8 p.m. opening ceremonies including the annual parade at Heritage Park, 12111 Pardee Road. Tournament play begins at noon Sunday, Aug. 12, and runs through the championship game Saturday, Aug. 19.

The opening procession is called the Parade of Champions, Gorgon said, as each of the athletes representing their country earned the title in order to get to Taylor.

“They all arrive as champions,” Grogan said. “They’ve earned the right to be here by beating other great teams. When people show up they truly are seeing some of the finest 13- and 14-year old ballplayers from around the world.”

For more information, visit www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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