Take me out to the World Series ballgames in Taylor

Teams will start arriving in Taylor mid-week for the Junior League World Series of baseball. As public relations director of the series, it’s one of my longest weeks of the year, but it’s also my most gratifying.

For those unfamiliar with the event, the Junior League World Series is the big brother of the Little League World Series played every year in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. When you’re 12 years old and your baseball team is really, really good, you can play for the world championship in Pennsylvania. When you turn 13 and 14, you come to Taylor.

This will be the 26th annual World Series – it started in Taylor and never left. This year, games will be played daily August 13-19 at Heritage Park. Admission is just $4 a carload per day or $7 for the whole week. Colorful, stirring opening ceremonies are held Saturday, August 12, starting at 8:30 p.m. Admission that night is free.

Every one of the 25 World Series played here has been different and exciting. The series has grown from a four-team event in 1981 to 10 teams – five regional champions from the United States and five from other regions of the world.

There are so many interesting angles each year and 2006 is no exception. This year, a team from Indonesia will be in Taylor for the first time, representing the Asia-Pacific region. This is the same Indonesia that CNN portrays as a place ravaged by natural disasters, attacks by terrorists and the bird flu. At the end of July, the country was hit by an earthquake. This month, the government is about to install a tsunami alert system.

Well, I’ve been exchanging e-mails with Eko Katoh, a leader in the Jakarta Little League program, and, quite frankly, Indonesian residents want people to know that their homeland is not just as it is portrayed on the world news. Eko says the disasters took place far from Jakarta and had no ill effect on the players and team.

Like the American teams and the teams from Canada, Mexico, Germany and Venezuela, the Indonesian boys are very excited to be playing in the World Series. While they play baseball year round, baseball in Jakarta is still growing. The Junior League level just started in 2000. Eko Katoh says that the World Series will be a “big step” for the league to show “many people in the world that we have something here in Jakarta.” In fact, it’s the first time a team from Indonesia has qualified to play in a world series, Eko said. There is hope that this visit to Taylor could increase awareness to the sport of baseball in Indonesia, bringing out more players and making the program stronger.

“We have something here,” Eko says. “We have a baseball team that will show the world that we can unite the world by sport – especially baseball.”

By the way, while some of the Indonesian visitors will speak English, their natural language is Bahasa Indonesian. That won’t stop them from communicating with us. So please join me and the hundreds of other volunteers in making the visiting ball players, coaches and spectators feel welcome during a week when the world truly does come to Taylor. Go to the games, take in the sights and sounds of the World Series and meet the players who will be competing to be the best in the world.

And if you’re from Taylor or the Downriver area of Detroit, feel proud that the world championships are being held in your own back yard.

Please check our web site all the time for schedules, results, recaps of games and features throughout the week. You can even hear the games live by clicking on a link or going to www.cityoftaylor.com/listen.

Please feel free to share your thoughts of the week and any World Series memories you may have.

David Gorgon, Director of Public Information
City of Taylor
August 4, 2006