State Babe Ruth tourney coming to Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 12, 2005

Babe Ruth League baseball returned to West Alabama only last summer, but it hasn’t taken long for the organization to decide the time is right for one of the Babe Ruth state tournaments to come to the Black Belt as well.

The sites for the Alabama Babe Ruth’s 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old state tournaments were announced by mail earlier this week, with West Alabama Babe Ruth League Commissioner Rob Pearson receiving the good news that the Demopolis SportPlex would be home to the state 13-year-old tourney.

“We’re very excited to host it,” says Pearson. “It’s an honor to host. It’s good recognition for Demopolis. Mark Pettus [of Demopolis Parks and Rec] is constantly trying to get tournaments to come to the SportPlex. I’m sure he’s glad to get another one.”

Email newsletter signup

The tourney will begin Wednesday, July 19 of 2006 and run through the following Monday. With the River City Rumble scheduled for the previous weekend, Pearson says there should be plenty of hotel space for the nine teams and their supporters that will come to Demopolis, and that Babe Ruth will be “looking for local hotels to step up and partner with us” in accommodating the guests.

Providing a town like Demopolis and a league like West Alabama’s with an influx of visitors is just one reason the tournament is coming to the SportPlex, says state Babe Ruth Commissioner Eugene Reynolds.

“We like putting these tournaments in smaller communities. We feel like the players enjoy it more and it’s easier on the parents,” he says. “If we put a tournament in Birmingham, it doesn’t make much of a difference to the economy, but in community like Demopolis or Andalusia, it has a pretty fair impact. It can really help a local league get on its feet. They can upgrade their facilities or their equipment…whatever they need to improve.”

Unlike some tournaments, the three state Babe Ruth competitions are rotated throughout the state, Reynolds says. But the quality of the SportPlex’s facilities make it especially easy to choose Demopolis as a host–and Reynolds, a veteran organizer of several Babe Ruth World Series, says that with an increase in seating larger tournaments than the state’s could come to the River city as well.

“People in Demopolis should take pride in [the SportPlex],” he says. “There are not a lot of communities with facilities like Demopolis … Your facilities are as good or better than 80 percent of the facilities that have hosted a World Series.”

According to Pearson, playing at home won’t mean too much of a competitive difference for West Alabama’s 13-year-old All-Star team (“It’s more of a relief for the parents,” he says. “The kids don’t mind the traveling”). However, the quality of the SportPlex fields means that if the issue of weather does raise its ugly head, schedules should remain more intact than in last summer’s tournaments, when all three West Alabama teams faced extensive delays.

“Not to say anything bad about anybody else, but our facilities, in all three cases, are better,” says Pearson, who called the experience last summer “frustrating for the kids.”

“It rained that weekend,” he says, “and our fields handle rain maybe a little better than these other facilities.”

For Reynolds, who visited during the West Alabama Babe Ruth League’s Jerry Windle Day and praised Pearson and the League as “very easy to deal with, very cooperative,” the Demopolis tournament should be a great success rain or shine.

“We’re sure the people down there will do a great job,” he says. “We’re looking forward to it.”