Prior to making the trip to Treasure Coast, Florida for the Cal Ripken World Series, the Boonville 9-year-old All-Stars will have logged in over 1,000 miles to play baseball in state and regional tournaments.
By finishing first at the state level and in the top four in the regional tournament, Boonville Cal Ripken President Michael Watts said while this tournament is considered an “invitational” the teams participating had to “earn” their way in some manner. In the case of Boonville, Watts said it was by winning the Missouri State Championship.
Boonville will report in Florida on Saturday, August 3rd but will be seeking donations to assists in their hotel, travel and food costs during their stay.
Watts said since this is considered an invitational, none of the players/parents expenses are covered so they have began fundraisers and other ways of securing donations.
“Anyone willing to assist I’m sure would be greatly appreciated,” Watts said. “I personally think this is a wonderful opportunity and experience for the players, coaches and parents. Our league has never had a representative sent to the World Series at any of our levels (8 through 12), ever! An opporunity like this may never come along again so why not experience it while presented. Go play some more ball, meet new teams and learn some new life lessons.”
Watts said this team will be listed as the Boonville Cal Ripken 9U All-Stars and that the players that were elected at the beginning is the team that will be representing Boonville. He added that there were originally 13 players elected and 11 of them will be continuing on.
While this is the first team to play in the World Series from the Boonville Cal Ripken League, Watts said this was an opportunity that may never come along again regardless of the circumstances involved in advancing.
“From a competitive standpoint I cannot believe that whether it’s ours or any team, we shouldn’t welcome the chance to go to a World Series at any level,” Watts said. “Our team has given their all, improved considerably considering before they were elected to the team had never played together and you cannot tell me that the “players” do not want to continue on.
“I would also like to point out that this, as with everything, has to start somewhere. This may be considered an “invitational” now but so were the 9s, 10s and 11s at one point years before the states and leagues decided to do something to get it started. Our league held and coordinated the very first 9-year-old state and regional invitational tournaments back in 2006 as previous to that point neither tournaments were not available.”
Watts added that a few years after that there were revolving regional tournaments available. He said first Missouri State 10-year-old tournament took place in 1997 as an invitational and it has steadily grown to now include its own World Series.
The very first 11-year-old regional was held in 2003 in Wellington, Kansas an invitational, Watts said. Boonville hosted the regional the next year in 2004 with participants from six of the eight states with their region. This year as with the 9-year-olds, they now have their own World Series to look forward to, he said.
To help fund the trip to the World Series, Watts said the Boonville Cal Ripken League will be making a donation along with members of the board.
“I will be going to part of it,” Watts said. “I’ve traveled all over the states to support teams not only in our league but the older league and our high school teams as well. I’m not going to miss this chance to be present when our league plays in its first World Series.”