As a 12-year old boy growing up in a small New England town, my week of baseball in August consisted of sandlot ball during the day and organized league games two nights per week. It was a simpler time back then.
Today’s youth baseball is far different. Sandlot ball has gone the way of nickel Coke and rotary dial telephones. And two league games per week? Try two and three games per day during tournament play.
As an example, here’s a look at the week during the 2016 Youth Baseball Network National Championship in Branson, Missouri for about ninety 12 and 13 year-olds:
Fly into Springfield, Missouri on a Tuesday from places like, Brooklyn, Miami, Birmingham, Fort Lauderdale, and Puerto Rico.
On Wednesday, gather at 7:00am for breakfast and a special Welcome Ceremony, then play two baseball games late morning and early afternoon. At 6:00pm, ride Duck Boats to a special Opening Ceremony at the fabulous Branson Landing to be welcomed by the Mayor of Branson and awed by a water and fire display in sync with the National Anthem. Then, be entertained by the star of the show, Acrobats of Shanghai; laugh until you cry listening to baseball comic Domingo Ayala; then listen to words of wisdom from former Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Bailes. In conclusion, gather for a collectable pin ceremony and a group photo. And it’s still only Wednesday!
On Thursday and Friday during the day, enjoy the numerous attractions and shows that family-friendly Branson has to offer, then play a game or two of baseball late afternoon and evening.
It all culminates on Championship Saturday with three of the best 12U teams in the country participating in a semi-final game and two championship games, which was proceeded by a Championship Opening Ceremony.
That’s what a week at the Youth Baseball Network National Championship looks like. An experience these young players will remember for a lifetime.
This here ain’t no sandlot baseball!