SCHENECTADY — Pink sweatbands, a new sponsor and seven amateur baseball teams looking to make a championship run will be part of an annual tradition this weekend in Schenectady.
The 20th annual Price Chopper/Market 32 Baseball Fest hosted by the Albany Athletics will take place at the three diamonds in Central Park Friday through Sunday.
For the seventh consecutive year, the showcase featuring mostly college-aged players will serve as a Coaches vs. Cancer benefit. That's where the pink sweatbands come in, and each player, coach and umpire will be provided with a set.
"All of us have been impacted by the disease of cancer," Albany Athletics head coach and tournament director Joe Altieri said. "Seven years ago, I thought what a great opportunity this would be to give back."
There will be no admission to the games, four of them set for Friday, seven slated for Saturday and three more on Sunday's card including the championship matchup pitting semifinal winners.
"I'm hoping people come out and watch some good baseball, and put a few bucks in the can," Altieri said.
Price Chopper/Market 32 is a new sponsor for the tournament. Altieri said the corporation's backing will allow more of the donations raised to go to the American Cancer Society rather than for tournament operations.
“The purpose of this event is not just to have a quality, competitive baseball event at this age level, but it’s also to give back to the community by creating an awareness to fight cancer," Altieri said. "The opportunities and success of the Athletics program have allowed us to create a vehicle for this effort and we are grateful we have a great venue, volunteers, and partners including Price Chopper/Market 32.”
The Eastern New York Umpires Association will contribute a portion of its game fees to the American Cancer Society. The Athletics and the American Cancer Society have teamed to develop brochures and literature that will be available to fans attending the tournament.
"We are excited to once again partner with the Albany Athletics for this great baseball event that will bring cancer awareness to the forefront," Jeffrey Winters, senior marketing manager for the Capital Region of the American Cancer Society, said in a press release. "We are grateful to all the teams for helping us finish the fight. Their contributions will help support the cancer fighting efforts in our local communities as well as deliver a great message to the fans and supporters of the Baseball Fest."
Aside from the tournament host Athletics, other Capital Region teams participating will be the South Troy Dodgers 18U, Twin Town Devil Cats, Albany Thunder and tournament newcomer Schenectady Blue Jays. The Brothers Baseball Club (Warwick, Rhode Island) and the Capital City Reds (Ottawa, Canada) complete the tournament field.
"The field of teams will once again be outstanding and very competitive," Altieri said. "The teams competing are established and reputable and will bring great baseball to the park. With 14 games of baseball, it is going to be a great atmosphere and a weekend to bring attention to cancer awareness. I'm eager to see who will end up on top a the end of the weekend and how much support people will show in the fight against cancer."
The Albany Athletics are the defending tournament champions and have placed first 11 times. The Brothers Baseball Club came out on top in 2017 and was the 2018 runner-up.
"I think your two favorites are the team out of Canada and the Brothers," Altieri said. "The team from Canada is a well-oiled machine. The Brothers are perennial league champions and they come here to win it."
The teams will play pool games Friday and Saturday, and the top two from each pool advance to Sunday's 10 a.m. semifinals. The title game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m.
Albany Athletics vs. Schenectady Blue Jays, 4:15 p.m., A diamond; Twin Town Devil Cats vs. Brothers BB Club, 6 p.m., B diamond; Albany Thunder vs. South Troy Dodgers, 6 p.m., C diamond; Albany Athletics vs. Capital City Reds, 6:30 p.m., A diamond.
Albany Athletics vs. Brothers BB Club, 10 a.m., A diamond; Albany Thunder vs. Capital City Reds, 10 a.m., B diamond; Twin Town Devil Cats vs. South Troy Dodgers, 10 a.m., C diamond; Albany Athletics vs. South Troy Dodgers, 12:30 p.m., A diamond; Albany Thunder vs. Brothers BB Club, 12:30 p.m., B diamond; Schenectady Blue Jays vs. Capital City Reds, 12:30 p.m.; Twin Town Devil Cats vs. Schenectady Blue Jays, 3 p.m., A diamond.
Semifinal (1 vs. 4), 10 a.m., A diamond; Semifinal (2 vs. 3), 10 a.m., C diamond; Championship, 1 p.m., A diamond.