By DAVE GORGON
For the Sunday Times
TAYLOR – For the 38th consecutive year, the best teams of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players will compete for the world championship of Junior League Baseball during the 2018 Junior League World Series at Taylor’s Heritage Park.
Opening ceremonies of the annual spectacle are set for about 8 p.m. Aug. 11. Games get under way Aug. 12 and continue through the following Sunday. The world title game will be broadcast live at noon Aug. 19 on ESPN2.
The JLWS 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, Pa.
This 12-team field will include six American teams and six international teams. As play headed into the weekend, regional tournaments were under way across the United States to determine five of the teams. Meanwhile, five of the six international teams have already qualified.
For the first time ever, a host team will play in the World Series. The Brownstown Little League won the Michigan District 5 tournament on Thursday in Taylor and earned a spot in the USA bracket.
Little League International decided the district champion would be the sixth American team, which evened out the two brackets. Brownstown was one of five all-star teams in the tournament and defeated Melvindale in the final game, 6-4.
Regional tournaments are under way in Fort Wayne, Ind. (USA Central region); Freehold Township, N.J. (East); Fort Myers, Fla. (Southeast); Albuquerque, N.M. (Southwest), and San Jose, Calif. (West).
The Canadian national champion gets an automatic berth in the International Pool. The national tournament is under way in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Five International teams have qualified, including the Asia-Pacific and defending world champion from Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei. The others are the Latin American champs from Santa Cruz, Aruba; the Europe/Africa champs from Emilia Romagna, Italy; the Australian national champions from Sydney, New South Wales, and the Mexican national champions from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
Teams from Chinese Taipei have won the last five Junior League World Series.
The most notable play last year – perhaps in World Series history – was called the “catch of the millennium.” Kennett Square, Pa., outfielder Jack Regenye, dove over the centerfield fence without touching the fence to haul in a certain home run. The play gained media coverage around the world.
The opening ceremonies are open to the public at no cost. Tournament organizers are counting on local fans to make visitors feel welcome. Admission is free.
The opening ceremonies begin with a colorful parade of champions with teams entering 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.
Games begin Aug. 12. The first day’s schedule is:
• Game 1: USA West vs. USA East, 11 a.m.
• Game 2: Mexico vs. Latin America, 2 p.m.
• Game 3: USA Central vs. USA Southwest, 5 p.m.
• Game 4: Europe/Africa vs. Australia, 8 p.m.
Admission on game days 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, 12111 Pardee Road.
Seating is general admission. Lawn chairs are welcome.
Teams are divided into two pools: International and USA. Twenty-one 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 Aug. 18 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 Aug. 19.
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 Aug. 19 on ESPN2.
For more information about the JLWS, go to www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries. The JLWS has an active Facebook page, www.facebook.com/juniorleagueworldseries. The’ Instagram page will be active during World Series week. Search jlws_taylor.
TAYLOR — Baseball fans can purchase tickets to select Detroit Tigers games in August — including the jersey retirement ceremonies for Jack Morris and Alan Trammell — while benefiting the Junior League World Series.
Through a Community Nights partnership between the Tigers and the city of Taylor, fans can purchase tickets to upcoming games against the Minnesota Twins (Aug. 10 to 12) and the Chicago White Sox (Aug. 24 to 26). The Upper Deck Reserved tickets are located behind home plate and around the infield. Tickets are $19 each, with $1 of each ticket being donated back to the JLWS.
These select games offer some very special themes. Morris and Trammell each were recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Morris’ No. 47 jersey will retired by the Tigers before the Aug. 12 game the Twins. Trammell’s No. 3 jersey will be retired before the Aug. 26 game against the White Sox.
Each of their numbers will then be placed on the brick facade in left-center field, where honorees like Ty Cobb, Ernie Harwell and Al Kaline, among others, have been honored.