Little League

Little League baseball earlier this spring at Wade Williams Elks Memorial Park in Baker City.

A total of 34 Little League baseball and softball teams from across Eastern Oregon will gather in Baker City Saturday, June 19 through June 24 for the District 3 tournament.

Games will be played at the Baker Sports Complex and at Wade Williams Elks Memorial Park.

The tournament includes seven divisions:

• Baseball: ages 8-10, 9-11, 10-12 and juniors

• Softball: ages 8-10, 10-12 and juniors

In addition to the Baker teams, there will be squads competing from Harney County, Hermiston, La Grande, Milton-Freewater, Pendleton, Wallowa Valley, Grant County, Pilot Rock and Columbia.

Baker Little League was scheduled to host the 2020 district tournament, but those plans were derailed when the Little League season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That gave Baker Little League officials additional time to prepare for the event.

“We’ve known about the tournament for a couple of years now, approaching two years,” Baker Little League President Jason McClaughry said.

This is the first major tournament Baker City has hosted since the 2018 state softball event.

“The planning of course starts at the Baker Little League level, as the host we have to plan concessions, we have to plan out field maintenance, who is going to do the score keeping as far as scorebooks and scoreboards,” McClaughry said. “Any training that we’ve done to do those things, hosting the umpires, finding accommodations for them. Just kind of the basic supplies that go into hosting an event, whether it’s trash cans to trash bags, spoons, forks, baseball equipment to chalk, to lining fields, there’s a lot of little details that go into it.”

McClaughry credits the constructive feedback and advice of other leagues, and the District 3 administrator Matt Martin for help in preparing for the tournament.

“He’s got a big role in connecting with the western region of Little League and Little League International, down to us at the local league so there’s all sorts of planning that person does to make sure everything is in place as well,” McClaughry said.

He said volunteers are crucial for putting on the tournament, with parents and community members contributing in many ways.

“Without the community, it doesn’t happen,” McClaughry said. “That’s even in the local season without the tournament, without all the volunteers that we have spending many hours, the local season doesn’t happen. When we have a week-long tournament, where we are going to have that variety of teams with multiple games happening at two venues, it’s going to take a lot of people.”

Through the website SignUp.com, volunteers are able to register for a wide variety of jobs throughout the tournament. McClaughry encourages those interested in offering their help to go to that website — there’s a link on the Baker Little League Facebook page — to see where they can help.

“We will continue to take volunteers throughout the week and we will flood people in where they can help,” he said.

With more than 400 ballplayers and more than 100 coaches in town for the next several days, McClaughry said he can’t help but feel excited.

“Everybody is really looking forward to it, the season was a fantastic success of having all the kids back out playing baseball for a month and a half,” McClaughry said. “Until you go out to the practices and games, and you see all the excitement the kids brought to it just to be back on the field and playing baseball. It’s just been an amazing thing to have those types of experiences back and you realize how much is lost after putting it to the side for a year.”

Although spectators are not required to wear masks, they are encouraged to conduct themselves safely in regards to social distancing as they see fit.

More information is available at the Baker Little League Facebook page, including a link to full tournament coverage at https://tourneymachine.com/R92074.

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