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TEAM EASTON GOES TO COOPERSTOWN ONE OF THE BEST BASEBALL TRIPS I’VE EVER BEEN A PART OF
Back in 2010, I was about three years into a nonprofit corporation I started called the Team Easton Youth Baseball Organization. Essentially, we managed the Easton baseball team, raised money for its operation, and facilitated games and trips. My wife and I had been taking a lot of out-of-state trips with our daughter and her successful softball team (you might recall my story of their big win a few newsletters ago). We decided that it was time to take the boys’ team somewhere. We determined that the following summer would be a perfect opportunity to go to Cooperstown, New York, to play in one of two major regional tournaments in the area. So, we started saving money, reaching approximately $15,000 over the course of the year. Nearly every penny went into the fees to enter the tournament. “What?” I can hear you asking. “Fifteen grand for a baseball tournament?” And sure, it may seem crazy until you consider that each team playing in the tournament was provided with their own private condo full of bunk beds, including lodging for the coaches. It was essentially a vacation, but instead of the beaches of Hawaii, it was the opportunity to participate in this huge New York tournament.
structure containing eight perfectly groomed ball fields. Between every game, they’d repaint the bases stark white. The dugouts were fully equipped with pitching cages and all the amenities you could imagine for a kids’ baseball team. Best of all for us adults, though, was the food; the owners of the complex also owned several top-of-the-line local restaurants. We got there a few days early to check out Manhattan, which was about three hours from the tournament. We went to Times Square, Central Park, took a few tours, did a thorough investigation of downtown, and just generally walked our feet off for three days. When we weren’t playing games, we were exploring the state with the boys. We went on one particularly interesting tour of the town, paying a well-spoken local to give us the “ghost tour,” walking us around and pointing out various haunted hotspots, all at night. Beforehand, we’d been creeping out the boys, talking about a specific poltergeist, “Angie,” who roamed the Cooperstown area. We paid off the guide to keep the jig going, and suddenly, these 11-year old boys were looking at us with wide eyes, going “Oh my god, they were telling the truth!” I’m not sure whether the kids had a better time checking out Cooperstown and New York City or playing baseball. We ended up placing fifth out of 30 teams, but every game was exciting. The beauty of it was the diamonds were shorter than regulation — 185 feet versus the usual 210 — turning the game into a home run derby. I don’t think there was a single kid that didn’t end up with at least one round-tripper by the end of the tournament. We lost our final game with all 30 teams watching, but we gave them a game for the ages. I had grown men coming up and telling me, “That was the best game I’ve ever seen in youth baseball!” I was proud of the kids and glad I could be a part of this special experience in their lives.
The complex in which the tournament took place was a massive, immaculate
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