Hitting the diamond

The London District Baseball Association (LDBA) has long been considered one of the stronger loops in the Ontario Baseball Association (OBA). But how do our teams stack up against competition from across the U.S.?

The 2005 London Tecusmehs, ’05 London West Tincaps and ’05 London Badgers all travelled south of the border in July to find out, competing against teams made up of some of the best 12-year-old ballplayers in the country. Both the Tecumsehs and Tincaps represented the LDBA – and their province and country – in Cooperstown, New York, widely considered by many to be the birthplace of baseball. The London Badgers, meanwhile, put their talent to the test in Sundusky, Ohio where they squared off against teams from Michigan and Ohio in a talent-laden weekend tournament. Although results varied by team, the conclusion was clear: our young ballplayers in the LDBA can compete with anyone!

The tournament(s) in Cooperstown are week-long affairs that feature up to 50 teams per week. From Florida to California, Texas to Michigan, and Chicago to South Carolina, this spectacle is a showcase of state champions, tournament super teams and elite level talent. The Tecumsehs and Tincaps played nine and eight games, respectively, during their time in Cooperstown, and they competed in every contest.

Although the standings showed that they won a combined four games, the Tecumsehs and Tincaps held a lead in 13 of the 17 games and lost seven of their contests by three runs or less. In other words, the boys were able to compete at the highest level. That in itself is a win for our young athletes.

“We can’t control wins and losses,” said Tecumsehs Head Coach Bob Picken. “But what we can control is our effort, attitude and development, and how we represent our country, province, city and association.”

The Tincaps shared the same outlook for the tournament. Expectations were to compete and develop while creating a lifetime of memories for the players.

“The outcome of the games is less important than our boys walking away with the knowledge that they can compete with anyone,” said DJ Robins, the non-parent Head Coach of the Tincaps. “And win or lose, we are a better team today because of it.”

The Badgers, meanwhile, also competed well in Sundusky. A long-time participant in the Cooperstown tournament for the past number of years, Head Coach Stephan Miron instead led his team in a more regional-centric tournament. Known for developing the fundamentals of baseball starting at the 11U level, the London Badgers program enters numerous showcases every year in the United States. With teams this year from 12U to 18U, this is a trend that is expected to continue.

The experience, relationships, memories and development that the London Tecumsehs, London West Tincaps and London Badgers received through these tournament opportunities are undeniable. Planning is already underway for next year’s group of 12U athletes, and it is certainly reasonable to expect a return to these same tournaments.

Before every game, Coach Picken reminds his players of the first four words in the baseball rule book: “Baseball is a game.”

This is true, and what a great game it is!

www.ldbabaseball.ca

By Rob Jamieson for LDBA Baseball