POULSBO — The national pastime literally will be on display in the North End next week as the diamonds at Snider Park play host to the Babe Ruth All-Star state baseball tournament for 13 year olds from July 12-15 in Poulsbo.
Tournament co-director Russ Barker said tourneys rotate throughout Washington each year and that he’s excited North Kitsap Babe Ruth has the opportunity to host this year’s event.
“It really doesn’t stay in one place,” he said. “We have a pretty good reputation in the area of putting on a great tournament so we tend to be rewarded with hosting our fair share of tourneys over the years.”
The state tournament may not stay in one place, but the Babe Ruth baseball program has been a fixture in the North Kitsap area for the past four decades.
“Babe Ruth baseball has been played in the North End area since the early 1960s,” Barker said. “It’s big time around here.”
This year’s competitors at state reside in Mount Vernon, South Kitsap, Wenatchee, Central Kitsap, Moses Lake, Ellensburg, North Kitsap and Port Angeles. These eight prolific squads will battle it out at Snider Park for the right to play at the 13-year-old regional Babe Ruth tournament in Bozeman, Mont. from July 28-Aug. 2.
Barker said he enjoys the atmosphere that Snider Park exudes.
“In the past when we have hosted these kinds of tournaments, it kind of becomes a family vacation for a lot of these teams because they come from so far away,” he said. “It’s always great and is a lot of fun having all these teams here for almost a week.”
In a rare occurrence, three of the teams lacing up their cleats for the tournament hail from Kitsap County.
“They all have played at Snider Park before,” Barker said. “During the season we had a inter-league agreement where teams in Kitsap county would play North End teams. They might have a little of an advantage over the out of county teams because they have most likely played on the field before.”
Through all of the countless hours of preparation he’s help put in for the tournament, Barker is excited to see the final product arrive in the form of the tournament’s opening day on July 12.
“We’ve had as many as 30 to 40 players and their parents work to help us get the field prepared for the tournament,” he said. “A smaller core group of volunteers have been responsible for coordinating other aspects of the tournament. I am looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun, exciting week of baseball out there. Hopefully, we will get some nice weather along with it, too.”
John Wahl, manager of the 13-year-old North Kitsap Babe Ruth All-Stars, said his squad will shine brightly against every foe they face in the tournament.
“We will be competitive in every game,” he said. “They have been working hard in practice everyday.”
North’s roster consisting of 13 players, has been honing their baseball skills during three-hour practice sessions, five days a week in preparation for the state tournament.
“These kids are all hard workers,” Wahl said. “They’re happy they made the All-Star team and it shows in practice. They’re putting in a good effort.”
Those wishing to volunteer at the tournament can contact Barker at (360) 697-4229.