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Opening ceremonies of the 37th annual Junior League Baseball World Series are set for 8 p.m. Saturday on World Series Field at Taylor’s Heritage Park, 12111 Pardee Road.
The nighttime event is open to the public and tournament organizers are counting on local fans to make visitors from around the world feel welcome. Admission and parking are free on Saturday.
The ceremonies opens with a colorful parade of champions featuring all 11 teams, who will enter the field to patriotic music or their nation’s anthem. A special presentation of the U.S. National Anthem will feature Taylor public safety personnel surrounding a giant American flag.
There will be speeches and presentations by dignitaries. Taylor Councilman Dan Bzura – a lifetime World Series volunteer – will serve as master of ceremonies. Bzura’s father Greg is the founder and director of the series.
A unique ceremonial first pitch will involve a player from each team, starting with a player from the team that traveled the farthest and concluding with a player from the team that is closest to Taylor.
The event concludes with fireworks at dusk.
The Junior League World Series is for the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old ballplayers from around the globe. It’s the “big brother” of the more famous Little League World Series for 12-year-olds that is played in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Teams arrive as champions, having won a regional crown and/or national title. Regional tournaments continue this week across the United States and in Canada.
Five of the six international teams have qualified. They include Asia-Pacific champion Chinese Taipei – the defending world champion, Latin America champion Venezuela, Europe-Africa champion Czech Republic and the national champions of Australia and Puerto Rico. The Canadian national champion will be the sixth team in the pool as determined Thursday in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Two of the five United States regional champions have been determined. California won the USA West title. Texas is the USA Southwest champ. The rest of the field will come from tournaments being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana (Central region); Freehold Township, New Jersey (East) and Fort Myers, Florida (Southeast).
Teams are scheduled to begin arriving in Taylor on Friday. All teams stay at the host hotel, the Holiday Inn in Southgate.
Teams are divided into two pools – USA and International – and play a “modified double elimination” format. Most teams continue playing until their second loss. When the series is down to four teams – two in each pool – the tournament switches to a winner-take-all, single-elimination format. The winning teams – the USA and International champs – advance to a single world championship game.
The complete schedule, press releases, history and more can be found on the World Series website, www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The series also can be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries.
Admission is $5 per carload per game at Heritage Park or $15 for the entire week. Each admission price includes parking. Seating is general admission. Lawn chairs are allowed.
The JLWS can be viewed via streaming video with play by play – a free service – on the website www.ustream.tv/channel/jlws. Streaming video involves a still camera that shows the game action as it happens while volunteer members of the broadcast crew talk about the game. Those who want to participate in a chat portion of the service will need to register.
The world championship game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at noon Sunday August 20. The starting time for the finale is an hour earlier than previously announced, as mandated by ESPN.