By Brad Fauber
A year and half's worth of preparation for the 2014 Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series is finally nearing the finish line.
With the weeklong event slated to begin its opening ceremonies on Saturday morning at Winchester's Yost Field, the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department and other city officials are putting on the final preparatory touches to ensure the tournament's second trip to Winchester is a successful one.
"We're in busy time. ... Everyone comes in Thursday, so we're in our final touches, the last minute things, the running around," Winchester Parks and Recreation assistant director and Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series host president Lisa Hamaker said Tuesday. "It's a little bit crazy but that's what you expect when you have a big event right around the corner."
This summer marks the second time in three years that Winchester will host the Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series, as the city also held the event in 2011.
Hamaker said that preparations for this year's event has been a little more relaxed than it was three years ago, but this summer's edition of the Cal Ripken World Series is still a year and a half in the making as event officials have busied themselves with field preparation, building sponsorships, procuring hotels for teams and many other necessary actions.
Winchester Parks and Recreation was better prepared to handle the challenge of hosting the Cal Ripken World Series this summer, Hamaker said, and has chosen to tone down some of the extracurricular events this time around in order to cut down on cost.
"I think one of things we learned from the last time to this time is we tried to do a lot of extra little things," Hamaker said. "We tried to plan trips for the teams, do end-game activities for the teams and the community. We did a big fireworks show. At the end of the day we were taking things away from baseball, so we decided this time we're going to really make it about baseball and not all of the little things because that's what they're here for."
Upgrades to Yost Field have also been minimal this summer after an extensive project was completed prior to the 2011 event, Hamaker said, though the field's playing surface did need some work earlier this summer.
The harsh winter that the area experienced this past year resulted in a case of winterkill that destroyed the Bermuda grass playing surface, and grass had to be resodded in late June in order for the field to be ready by this weekend.
Hamaker said the field is now in great shape, and the Winchester team that will be competing in the Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series was scheduled to hold its first practice on the field Tuesday night.
"It looks good and we're thankful for it," Hamaker said of Yost Field. "It will look a little more peaked after all the plays of the World Series, but that's expected. It's ready to go. A beautiful field for a great event."
Hamaker was unable to provide a figure regarding the total cost of the preparations for this year's event, although she did say the costs are lower this year than they were in 2011.
"We aren't off-budget at this point, I don't believe, and with the revenue from sales for the actual World Series event, we hope that breaks even or even makes us a little bit," Hamaker said.
She added that event officials were unable to secure as many sponsorships this summer as there were the first time the Cal Ripken World Series was held in Winchester.
"We are thankful for the sponsors that we have," Hamaker said. "We do have a few less but we have a lot less costs so we're hoping that makes us break pretty even."
The 2014 Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series will consist of 10 teams, including the Winchester team that gained automatic entry as the host squad. Virginia state champion Williamsburg will also compete in the tournament, as well as champions from the New England (Cranston, Rhode Island), Middle Atlantic (Marlton, New Jersey), Ohio Valley (Lexington, Kentucky), Southeast (Sarasota, Florida), Midwest Plains (West Fargo, North Dakota), Southwest (Hattiesburg, Mississippi), Pacific Northwest (West Linn, Oregon) and Pacific Southwest (Honolulu) regions.
The tournament begins pool play on Saturday before shifting to single elimination tournament games on Aug. 14. The championship game is scheduled for Aug. 16 at 1 p.m.
"We just encourage everybody to come out and enjoy it," Hamaker said. "It's amazing what 10-year-old baseball can look like when you're looking at the best from across the country. It's a pretty cool thing. You forget they're 10 for a while when you're watching it, it's a really neat experience to see."
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org