For 10 days in August, rivalries will be put aside as the 12-year-old team Branson All-Stars take the field at the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series.
The hometown team will compete against teams from around the nation and around the world.
Nick Schafer, head coach, said it’s a special opportunity for baseball players from around the Tri-Lakes area – who normally find themselves playing against each other – to suit up and take the field together as teammates.
“We’re all from Stone, Taney and Christian County,” Schafer said. “I’m born and raised in Branson. It’s a huge honor, looking forward to going out and competing against the best in the world.”
Gannon Miller, one of the team captains, said playing with different athletes than normal allows for everyone to share their strengths, as well as find aspects of their game that need improvement.
On Tuesday, July 16, practice began by timing each player’s speed running from home plate to first base, as well as from first to second.
“It’s a chance to get to know everyone and learn their weaknesses and strengths,” Miller said.
The series, which first arrived in Branson in 2017, will feature a total of 29 teams, nine of which are international.
“People from other countries, I don’t see having another chance to play them unless you’re in (Major League Baseball),” said Wyatt Vincent, a team captain. “Still, it’s going to be fun.”
“We’re going to give it our best and try and beat them,” Miller added.
According to Schafer, bringing athletes from different teams together brings proven talent and skill, and leaves practices as a chance to allow the team to mesh together.
“They’re awesome, we have a great group of boys that are coming together as a brotherhood,” Schafer said. “They already knew each other from competing against each other and now they get to play together.”
In May, officials with the Babe Ruth League announced the tournament will be staying in Branson at Ballparks of America through 2022.
“Babe Ruth League players and coaches, along with their families and fans, approach our Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series as a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it is an extraordinary opportunity,” BRL Vice President/Commissioner Robert Faherty said in May. “The leaders in Branson echo that perspective. They model the Sportsmanship Code that is paramount to our mission and vision.
“Their warm welcome and professionalism has allowed thousands to enjoy the excitement of the World Series, leaving the worries of the world behind.”
“Branson is a great family destination for youth sports. With exceptional facilities like Ballparks of America, breathtaking nature, rich history and plenty of adventure, we are the ideal host for the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series,” Terra Alphanso, director of sports marketing and development for the Branson Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau said in May. “We are thankful for the many great relationships forged through our collaboration with Babe Ruth League, Inc.
“The opportunity to continue to exceed everyone’s expectations inspires us as we strive to provide not only a competitive and exciting youth baseball tournament, but an educational and cultural experience for all involved.”
Babe Ruth Baseball dates back to 1951, with notable alumni including George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson and Kurt Warner.
Ballparks of America opened in Branson in 2016, and features two-thirds size replicas of big league fields, including Busch Stadium from St. Louis, Wrigley Field from Chicago and Fenway Park from Boston.
Babe Ruth League also announced 34 games from the series will air on multi-platform sports network Stadium. Stadium will air 34 live games over eight days, including the International Championship, US Championship and World Championship on Aug. 10.
For additional information on the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series, visit baberuthworldseries.website.sportssignup.com.
The first game for the Branson team is set for Friday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m. on the St. Louis Field against the Ohio Valley team at Ballparks of America.
According to the event’s website, the The Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series is a free event to attend.