BRANSON, Mo. – Ballparks of America in Branson is hosting the Cal Ripken Little League World Series this week.
The opening ceremony is Thursday night, and the first pitches will be thrown Friday to kick off the tournament, featuring some of the best 12-year-old baseball players in the world.
Twenty-four teams will compete at theCal Ripken World Series, including 20 teams from across the U.S. and four from around the world.
Ten international teams were invited to compete, but due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel, only four teams from the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Aruba could attend.
This weekend, the Missouri and Arkansas 12-year-old state champion teams will be competing.
Former Major League baseball player Gary Matthews says that Branson is the perfect location for the tournament.
“I think it’s been here about three years or so, but it’s just been phenomenal; A lot to do with the kids. The pandemic kind of slowed us down just a little bit. We have 24 teams that are here vying for that Babe Ruth World Championship. Right now, they have the home run contest going on, and it’s just so good for the kids. I think once the people in Branson here know a little bit more about it, they’re going to come out here in droves. This is some good baseball playing,” says Matthews.