Batter up, Prince George - you're in for an wild month of baseball later this summer.
Two provincial titles and a national championship will be contested at Citizen and Rotary Fields this summer as the IDL Midget Knights host the Wood Wheaton/PG Motors Midget Boys Championship from July 26-30, the Prince George Senior Baseball League's all-star Grays host B.C.'s best, Aug. 3-6 and then the Baseball Canada Senior Championship goes Aug. 23-26.
Ken Wood, chairperson of the senior men's provincial championship, said it's because of the teamwork and coordination between all levels of ball that Prince George is able to host these tournaments.
"I just felt that we had to be accountable to each other - we're the baseball community," said Wood. "Youth baseball makes the senior men's league."
Before joining the senior men's ranks five years ago, Wood was involved with Prince George Youth Baseball for 25 years. He said the people he runs into at senior men's games are the same players, parents and volunteers who worked their way through the youth league.
Those connections in the community make it profitable for businesses like The Bid Group to step up and sponsor the senior men's championship..
Todd Patterson, all-star director of youth baseball and coach of the midget Knights, said working in conjunction with the senior men's host committee should make it an easy transition in a short time span.
"With back-to-back provincials we're able to get together on the maintenance of the fields at each of the tournaments and help each other out so that we're going to have successful tournaments this year," said Patterson.
The Knights were named B.C. Minor Baseball team of the year in 2011 despite their silver-medal finish at the provincial tournament. Patterson said he expects his team to receive the top ranking in this year's 10-team championship.
"We're looking forward to hopefully winning a title," said Patterson.
The 15 players on the Knights roster tune up for the provincial weekend each year by playing in the senior men's league, a system that is economically beneficial and also helps them to build physical endurance playing against men.
"We would have to travel to play ball if we didn't play in the senior men's league," said Patterson. "We get 30 games playing the senior men's teams and there's a lot of good players and pitchers. We see a pretty high calibre of ball."
Wood said the senior men's championship should feature high quality ball players, many of who played in the same Premier League where Major Leaguers Brett Lawrie, Ryan Dempster and Justin Morneau began their careers.
"The players all played in the very competitive youth baseball league and have gone on to universities and other baseball endeavors,"said Wood. "We really think the quality [of players] is going to be pretty high."
In addition to the host Grays, the other seven teams at the senior men's tournament will represent each region of the province. Already confirmed are the defending champion Victoria Mavericks, Nanaimo Coalminers and Trail. The Lower Mainland and Okanagan regions will each have two representative teams.
The Mavericks will return to Prince George for the national senior championship.