Sunday is Game Day in 2007 Junior League World Series in Taylor

Sunday is Opening Day of the 27th annual Junior League World Series – a day when youth baseball teams begin their attempt to become world champions.

Teams of 13- and 14-year-old all-stars will compete in the weeklong international tournament at Taylor’s Heritage Park.

The public is invited. Admission is $4 per carload per day – or $7 for the entire week. Parking is included.

The first pitch will be thrown about noon when teams from Makati City, Philippines, and Guayama, Puerto Rico, take the field.

Other games scheduled Sunday:
●Middletown, New Jersey vs. Anderson, South Carolina, 2:45 p.m.
●Kirovograd, Ukraine vs. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, 5:30 p.m.
●Glendale, Wisconsin vs. Laredo, Texas, 8:15 p.m.

The other two teams – Pearl City, Hawaii, and Canada – will play their first games on Monday.

Each of the teams playing in Taylor is already a champion and had to qualify to earn a shot at the world title.

Four of the teams from the United States are state and regional champions: South Carolina won the USA South region tournament played in Georgia. Wisconsin won the Central tournament in Indiana, defeating the Michigan state champions from Midland in the final game. Hawaii won the West region title in Oregon and is appearing in Taylor for the fourth straight year.

Laredo won the Southwest tournament in Colorado and is attempting to become the second straight Texas team to win the world title. El Campo, Texas, won last year.

Middletown, New Jersey, was the host city for the East region and outlasted 10 state champions to earn the right to play in Taylor.

The international teams won national and regional titles. In fact, three teams are representing their international region for the first time: The Philippines is the Asia-Pacific champion. The Ukraine is the best team from the region that encompasses Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Virgin Islands team won the 11-team Latin America tournament played in Panama.

The team from Guayama is the national champion of Puerto Rico. The champions of Puerto Rico and Mexico receive automatic berths to the series every other year.

The national championship of Canada will be determined Friday night in Windsor, Ontario.

Four games will be played Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, the top two teams in the International pool will play for that championship at 5 p.m. The USA championship game follows at 8 p.m.

The winners of those games play for the world championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.

For the first time, the title game will be broadcast live, but you have to get ESPNU to see it. All other cable subscribers can see the game when it is broadcast on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. August 29.

Most, if not all, games will be broadcast on the Internet by streaming audio at www.cityoftaylor.com.

There are eight World Series under the umbrella of Little League International. The most famous series is for 12-year-old baseball players and is held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The Junior League World Series in Taylor is the “big brother” of the Little League event. In fact, some of the players in Taylor may have played in Williamsport.

World Series’ alumni include a number of current and former Major League players, including current Detroit Tiger Gary Sheffield, who, along with another future pro, Derek Bell, played for the 1982 world championship team from Tampa, Florida.

Erik Bedard, who leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts while pitching for Baltimore, played in 1992 with the Canadian national champions from Ontario.

Other present and former pro ballplayers that have competed in Taylor include Brett Myers, Jose and Javier Valentin, Erubial Durazo, Delino DeShields, Chad Hermansen, Shannon Withem and Adam Loewen.

Matt Cassel, a backup quarterback to Tom Brady for the New England Patriots of the National Football League, played in the series. Pro hockey players that played baseball in Taylor included Chris Dingman and Steve Reinprecht.

Mark “Bo” Pelini, who played for the first world champions from Boardman, Ohio, in 1981, is defensive coordinator for the Louisiana State University football team.

Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road between Goddard and Northline roads. For more information on the tournament visit the World Series Web site: www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries.