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For the 37th consecutive year, the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players will compete for the Junior League Baseball World Series this week at Taylor’s Heritage Park.
Opening ceremonies of the annual spectacle are set for about 8 p.m. Saturday. Games get under way Sunday and continue through the following Sunday. The world title game will be broadcast live at noon August 20 on ESPN2.
The Junior League World Series is the “older brother” of the more famous Little League World Series, in which teams of 12-year-old all-stars play in South Williamsport, Penn.
This year’s field will include five American teams come to Taylor after winning regional championships: the USA Central champions from Saginaw Township, Michigan; the USA East champs from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; the USA Southeast champs from Rutherford County, North Carolina; the USA Southwest champs from Abilene, Texas; and the USA West champs from Encinitas, California.
The six international championship teams are the Asia-Pacific and defending world champions from Chinese Taipei, Latin American champs from Venezuela, Europe/Africa champs from Czech Republic and the national champions of Australia, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Opening ceremonies begin about 8 p.m. Saturday. The event is open to the public and tournament organizers are counting on local fans to make visitors feel welcome. Admission is free.
The ceremonies open with a colorful parade of champions as the teams enter World Series 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 founder and director of the series. A unique ceremonial first pitch and fireworks conclude the event.
Here is the schedule for the first two days of games:
Sunday, August 13
Monday, August 14
Admission is $5 per day per carload of fans; $15 for a week’s pass. Both fees include parking. Admission is paid at the entrances to Heritage Park, located at 12111 Pardee Road. Seating is general admission. Lawn chairs are welcome.
Teams are divided into two pools: International and USA. Nineteen games are played throughout the week in a “modified double-elimination format.” A team keeps playing until it loses twice. The top two teams in each pool then play a single-elimination game on Saturday, August 19 to determine the International (3 p.m.) and USA (6 p.m.) champions.
The International and USA champs meet head-on for the world championship at noon on Sunday, August 20.
All games leading up to the world championship game can be viewed via streaming video with play by play on the website www.ustream.tv/channel/jlws. The world championship game will be broadcast live at noon August 20 on ESPN2.
For more information about the World Series, visit the website www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The World Series has an active Facebook page, www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries.