BRANSON, Mo. — Baseball teams from all over are stepping up to the plate at Ballparks of America in Branson.
“We have 28 teams, about 20 participants on team, coaches, players, bat boys,” Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series Strategic Planner Manager Michael Solanik said. “It’s a once in a lifetime event.”
There are 20 United States teams and eight international teams. The international teams come all the way from Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.
“We are from Sydney, Australia,” Samantha Casper-Richardson said. “The team is from all over Australia. “The team arrived over a couple of days, but we were all in Texas by last Friday. It was a long, long haul.”
Susy Bereire is supporting her grandson, who came from Aruba. They’ve flown from Aruba to Philadelphia, from Philadelphia to St. Louis and lastly a four-hour drive to make it to Branson. Bereire said it was to support her grandson’s baseball dreams.
“His dream is to someday, to play in the big league,” Bereire said. “That’s the dream of my grandson.”
Although some families traveled far, others like the Branson Pirates were able to drive down the street.
“[We will] play Hawaii first game,” Player Brody Baker said.
“Then we’re gonna where we play Maryland, too,” Baker’s teammate Oskar Arjes said. “So it’s going to be awesome. Going to be really good.”
Teams had to win their district, state, and region title to qualify for the tournament.
“Every single one of these teams is a champion,” Solnaik said. “We believe that all these kids are going to remember this for their entire lives.”
Win or lose, the memories from the tournament will last a lifetime.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to get them home,” Casper-Richardson said. “They’re going to be kicking and screaming like we’re going to have to drag them out of here.”