The road to the 2013 World Series will go through Niskayuna, at least for 13-year-old Babe Ruth players from Mid-Atlantic states.
Niskayuna Babe Ruth was recently awarded the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Regional for 13-year-old Babe Ruth teams, a tournament that will draw 10 teams from five states, each vying for a chance to move on to the World Series tournament held next year in North Dakota.
“We’re obviously really excited,” Tom Spataro, president of Niskayuna Babe Ruth, said Tuesday. “We’ve been working very hard the last four or five years to re-establish the program in the area.”
The selection, which officials were notified of recently, means those 10 teams, eight from out of the area, will descend on Blatnick Park, and on local hotels and restaurants, in late July and early August.
Each team has 15 players, with family, coaches and supporters tagging along.
Town Supervisor Joe Landry said the town will be offering what support it can. He also welcomed the tournament as a way to show off the town and bring dollars into the area.
“We’re very excited that they’ll be coming in and staying in the area and helping out local restaurants, stores and hotels,” Landry said.
The Mid-Atlantic regional is tentatively scheduled to begin July 30 and run for seven days. It pulls teams from five states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. Some states have more than one team. New York has three from different parts of the state.
Niskayuna’s team will get an automatic berth in the regional as the host team.
Niskayuna has hosted a Mid-Atlantic regional before, Spataro said, but not since the 1990s. He pointed to success with lower-level tournaments, including the 2012 Eastern New York State tournament for 11-year-old Cal Ripken teams and 13-year-old Babe Ruth teams.
Those tournaments were held in July.
Niskayuna had to put in an application, explaining general information on the league, fields and past performance hosting tournaments, Spataro said. People at Babe Ruth headquarters in New Jersey then select the final host cities.
“It’s a big deal,” Spataro said, adding later, “We’ve proved our mettle in those smaller tournaments and they’ve awarded us this one.”
Spataro also cited the relationship Babe Ruth has built with the school baseball programs in helping get the tournament. The school district supports Babe Ruth, with students playing on both the school team and Babe Ruth team.
The success off the field in getting the 13-year-old regional also comes on the heels of Niskayuna Babe Ruth’s 15-year-old team making it to the 2012 World Series, taking a third-place finish. Niskayuna advanced to the Arkansas tournament after winning the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Regional for 15-year-olds, which was held in South Colonie.
Along with hosting, the Niskayuna Babe Ruth league will be responsible for securing hotel rooms for the other teams, as well as establishing relationships with local restaurants. There is also a financial commitment, expected to be covered with fundraising and sponsorships, Spataro said.
Spataro estimated between 500 and 600 people could come into the area for the tournament.
The Niskayuna Babe Ruth league has about 630 players from T-ball through Babe Ruth. Next year, they’re also adding a 16- to 18-year-old bracket with Connie Mack baseball, Spataro said. They haven’t had that level in several years.