The Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series is making a repeat run through Mountain Home in 2018.
Babe Ruth League Vice President/Commissioner Robert Faherty, Jr. made it official with the city of Mountain Home and with Mountain Home Youth Baseball with a contract at McClain Park, which will host its second Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series in a row.
Mountain Home was looking forward to hosting another World Series, but didn't know the opportunity would come so soon.
"An opportunity opened for 2018," Faherty said. “We're glad to be back in Mountain Home."
The tournament will be played August 9-16, 2017, and will feature 10 teams — eight regional champions, the Arkansas state champion, and the host Mountain Home team.
"It will be great to play at home in this great facility," said Tom Czanstkowski, a coach of the Mountain Home team that will be playing as 13-year-olds next year. "It's going to be a great deal for the community and for the public to come out and watch."
The Mountain Home team, as 12-year-olds in, played in the 2017 Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series in Branson, Missouri, as the North Arkansas state champs.
The group has lucked out on World Series locales, playing in three of them within a few hours of home.
"This age group, of all the teams, are pretty fortunate," Czanstkowski said, "because when they were 10, Jonesboro hosted and we got to represent our state. Last year, it was the first time the 12-year-olds were in Branson, which was an amazing event. The North Arkansas State champ got to go, so this age group has just fallen with three World Series right in their laps."
In their previous two World Series trips, the Mountain Home team qualified as state champs, but the group will have an automatic bid as hosts in 2018.
"We would have had to do what everyone else does," coach Curt Drewry explained, "on the tournament trail, raising thousands of dollars, getting the team to the World Series. We've been very fortunate."
Babe Ruth League is an International Youth Baseball and Softball organization with more than one million players. It has five divisions: Cal Ripken Baseball (ages 4-12), Babe Ruth Baseball (ages 13-18), Babe Ruth Softball (ages 4-18), Bambino Buddy Ball (ages 5-20), and Xtreme Fastpitch (ages 6-18).
Mountain Home Youth Baseball, which supervises Babe Ruth Baseball and Cal Ripken Baseball for the Mountain Home area, includes about 500 players and 100 volunteers.
"The good thing is we have a lot of baseball-minded people willing to help," Drewry said. "Our coaches that coach our younger age groups are willing to help, from the press box, to picking up trash."
Faherty mentioned the economic impact the tourney will have on the area.
"They called and said they weren't just interested in one more but a few more, that it was good for the community," Faherty said. "A lot of people came to town and spent money at hotels and restaurants. It became an interesting opportunity for me to say 'we have 2018 available if you're interested,' and here we are ready to do it again."
Faherty received nothing but positive feedback about the 2017 World Series and pointed out how much he loves the artificial turf on the field.
"Last year was so good, the comments I got back from my staff, from our volunteers, umpires and coaches was first-class all the way," he said. "What a complex to be able to play on. Even with a little weather, you are pretty much on schedule and you don't beat your grounds crew up."
The Mountain Home team was eliminated earlier than it would have liked from the World Series in Branson, but that gave them time to come back to town and soak in the event in Mountain Home, giving it some insight into what they will face next summer.
"It was a different deal, playing in it for the seven days we were in Branson, then we get back and we're hosting one," Czanstkowski said. "We got both sides of it for about 14 days straight. We were a little wiped out afterwards, but the experience and the great time had by all was well worth it."