Here in Rhode Island youth baseball, the regular season is played and completed (for most teams) by the beginning of June. Then, District All-Star season begins for some, with only a chosen few moving onto States, and a very select few advancing to the Regionals, and an even tinier group of teams advancing to National tournaments. This year, Barrington Little League made it into that select group of special teams that has advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. At press time, the team from Barrington, Team New England 2019, is 1-1 and will play Tuesday, August 20th for a chance to advance in the tournament. Continued success to the Barrington Little League players, coaches, and families this week.
For the players and families who elect not to participate in District All-Stars, or who are not selected to play on a District All-Star team, the friendship tournament season was created and is thriving. Every summer, for the past several summers, tournaments from Woonsocket to Warwick, Coventry to East Providence, as well as Glocester to Darlington to Mount Pleasant just to name a few hosted Friendship or Mayors Cup Tournaments. Most, if not all, of these tournaments are Friendship Tournament rules which include non-All star rosters (exception would be the Mayors Cup Tournaments). Players who did not make a District team roster, but love the game of baseball and want to continue to play all summer are given that opportunity through these Friendship style tournaments. There are other rules regarding continuous batting orders, minimum play standards, pitching rules, and so forth. They are all open to any league in any district throughout the State of Rhode Island’s community of baseball leagues.
I have had the great honor of coaching in a number of these Friendship tournaments, as my son’s biggest fan on the sidelines working with him and others who love baseball. A short list of tournaments I have coached in includes: Coventry’s Urwin Tournament, St. Greg’s of Warwick, Sally Eddy of Warwick, and the Jaxon Marrocco Tournament of Warwick. In the past, I have covered and wrote about tournaments like the Jimmy Fund Tournament in Woonsocket, the Andreozzi Tournament hosted by Darlington Little League, and Scott Grace Tournament hosted by Rumford Little League. And this summer, I had the opportunity to visit the Mayor’s Cup Tournament in Providence at Mount Pleasant Little League as well as the Wounded Warrior Tournament hosted by Rumford Little League and finally the Mayors Cup Tournament in Warwick, hosted by Warwick North Little League. There are more tournaments this fall, including The Lumber Day Friendship Tournament hosted by Chariho Little League.
Fans pack the stands for these exciting tournaments. Players hustle and dive for baseballs. Coaches high five their players with great enthusiasm. There was a comment on one of my recent Facebook posts about a Warwick Mayors Cups game between Warwick Continental and Apponaug Cal Ripken which read “Who won?” The answer couldn’t be clearer. Everyone who participates in these tournaments wins – the players, the families, the coaches, the local baseball leagues, the concession stands, the sponsors, the communities that host the tournaments. Everyone involved wins and it is a beautiful thing when that happens.
Great job by the host fields getting the grounds and fields ready for multiple games on multiple days. Awesome job by the league volunteers in the concession stands. Thank you to the umpires, some of whom donate their services for charity in these tournaments. Next year, I hope to cover more and more of these Friendship and Mayors Cup Tournaments to help promote the incredible volunteers, players, and families that make up the Rhode Island baseball community.