By: Chris Nall-January 5, 2008
When you hear mention of the World Series, images of Babe Ruth calling his homerun shot, Kirk Gibson’s improbable homerun 1988, and even Bill Buckner pops into your head. But to many players in the Upstate and across the World, when they think about the World Series, it’s Easley SC they think of.
In a true World Series, eleven teams from all over the world ascend on JB Red Owens Park in Easley, making it the home for the world’s top teenage talent. Last year boasted six teams from the US, one from Mexico, one from Puerto Rico, one from Canada, one from the Asia Pacific and one from Poland. After each team has played their “pool play” games, the top two teams in each pool advances to championship play. The final game to crown the World Champion is broadcast across the world on ESPN.
Since the Big League World Series began in 1968, Taipei has won the event 17 times, but it has been South Carolina District I that has dominated the event lately, winning four of the last five World Championships. SC District I defeated Puerto Rico 11-3 on ESPN last year to be named World Champion.
The event is governed by Little League Baseball out of Williamsport, PA and there are strict rules and guidelines that players and teams must follow. A major part of that is Winter League play. Each player that wishes to participate in the World Series must first meet the requirements in league play. League play is set to begin this weekend in the Upstate.
Each District has their own form of league play; once players meet the requirements, it is up to the coaches to evaluate the eligible players throughout the high school season and beginning of summer ball. The players that are selected will then form a team, competing for a Regional berth into the World Series. Since Easley is the host city, current rules allow one host team have an automatic bid to the World Series.
So when you hear Big League or World Series, don’t let images of the Yankees be the only thing you think of, Think of the hundreds of 16-18 year olds fighting to play in Easley, to be named World Champion.