World Series opening ceremonies, fireworks welcome the world to Taylor

A couple years ago, a group of 13- and 14-year-old baseball players from Russia oohed and awed in amazement as fireworks exploded beyond the outfield fences of World Series Field in Taylor’s Heritage Park.

Their coaches said the players had not seen fireworks before.

The city of Taylor, which is known for its fireworks show during the Meijer Taylor Summer Festival each July, will again provide a smaller version of the pyrotechnics during the opening ceremonies of the Junior League World Series.

The welcoming event for all 10 teams competing to become world champion starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the park, located at 12111 Pardee Road. The public is invited and even encouraged to attend. Admission is free.

The event starts with a Parade of Champions in which all of the players, coaches and dignitaries march onto the field in an Olympic-like procession as their national anthems play.

Greg Bzura, director of the World Series, said all of the teams that arrive in Taylor are already champions, having won state or provincial, national and/or regional championships along the way.

Taylor Mayor Cameron Priebe will welcome the visitors and take part in the ceremonial first pitch. Other speakers will include Sam Abrams, community affairs coordinator for the Detroit Tigers, and Vicente Sanchez, consul, of the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit.

The team from Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, will receive special attention because it will be the 20th anniversary of the first time a team from Mexico played in the Junior League World Series.

"The Parade of Champions and the fireworks fire up the teams so they're ready go on Sunday," said Bzura, who founded the series in 1981. "They're full of anticipation to begin with. If you believe first impressions mean a lot, if there are a whole lot of people in the stands to cheer them on, they’re going to be a lot more excited about Sunday."

Games get under way at noon Sunday when Jakarta, Indonesia, makes its first appearance ever in a World Series against the Ramstein Air Force Base team from Germany. A representative of the Jakarta team will place his nation’s flag onto the Hill of Flags at World Series Field.

Three other games follow on Sunday at 2:45 p.m., 5:30 and 8:15.

As of Tuesday morning, the other qualifying team was the Latin American champion from Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Play was scheduled to conclude yesterday in the USA Southwest regional tournament in Grand Junction, Colorado. The championship game pitted the Texas East champions from Lubbock against the Texas East champions from El Campo.

Today is the finals of the USA South regional in Cartersville, Georgia. As of yesterday morning, the final four in that tournament were the state champions of Florida, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.

Regional tournaments conclude tomorrow in Freehold, New Jersey; Beaverton, Oregon; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The Michigan state champions from Niles are playing in the Central region in Indiana.

The daily World Series schedule of games from Monday through August 17 is 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The International and USA championship games take place at 5 and 8 p.m. August 18, respectively.

The world championship game is scheduled for 5 p.m. August 19. That game is taped for future broadcast on ESPN.

Select games will be available on streaming audio on the city of Taylor web site, www.cityoftaylor.com/listen.

Entry to the games is $4 per carload per day, which includes parking. A $7 weekly pass also is available.

The complete schedule of games, the history of the tournament and a host of World Series memories can be viewed on the World Series web site at www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries.