Coaches, officials and other local dignitaries gathered at the Manila Airport Center Friday morning to enjoy a hearty breakfast and prepare for Cal Ripken 10-Year Old State Baseball Tournament July 11-15.
After breakfast, Terry Carr, who served as announcer for the tournament, welcomed everyone attending and recognized the Manila Business Women's organization for their hard work in preparing and serving the meal.The food for the breakfast was provided by Farmers Market.
Carr then introduced Manila Mayor Clifford Veach, who welcomed all of the guests to the city and expressed thanks to all the local residents who helped in the preparation for the tournament. The Manila City Council was then acknowledged by Carr for supporting the Manila Youth Association. He continued by introducing Manila Superintendent Charolette Wagner, Manila Park Commission Chairman Wayne Wagner, Police Chief Jackie Hill, Manila Youth Association President Tracey Reinhart and NEA East Team Vice President Darrell Birmingham.
In his comments, Carr noted the dedication of the people of Manila to making the tournament a success, and he noted Reinhart's and Birmingham's role in particular as being instrumental in the planning of the tournament.
Two officials with the Cal Ripken organization were then introduced by Carr. Randy Smith of Springdale, state commissioner, and Ed Weaver, district commissioner, were both on hand to welcome the coaches and explain the tournament rules to participants.
Weaver noted the impressive work done on the playing field. "It rivals what you'd see in a regional or world series," he said.
Weaver also added that the purpose of the tournament was to provide a positive influence on the children involved. "That's why we're here - to set an excellent example for these 10-year-olds," he explained.
Brad Clark, who served as umpire-in-chief for the games, introduced the other officials, Scott Townsend, Robert Frazier and Shane Birmingham. Clark also explained the rules that the umpires would be following during the course of the tournament.
According to State Commissioner Smith, the Cal Ripken organization is a nationwide non-profit youth sports program that does not require any type of entry fee for participants. The Cal Ripken League is a division of the Babe Ruth baseball organization, which was started in 1951.
"Mrs. Babe Ruth allowed her husband's name to be associated with it only if it would be available to every kid independent of their finances," Smith said.
He also noted that of all the amateur baseball programs in the country, the Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken programs are the only ones showing positive growth.