World Series starts Sunday; 10 teams seek world championship in Taylor

The best teams of 13- and 14-year-old players will compete to become the champions of Junior League baseball during the 26th annual World Series that starts Sunday at Heritage Park in Taylor.

Games begin at noon when the Junior League team from Jakarta, Indonesia - champion of the Asia-Pacific Region - takes on the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany - champion of the Europe/Middle East/Africa Region.

In game two at 2:45 p.m., Alexandria, Va. (USA South champion) plays Upper Deerfield, N. J. (USA East).

At 5:30 p.m., Ottawa, Ontario - the national champions of Canada - plays Guaymas Sonora - the national champions of Mexico.

The fourth game of the day pits El Campo, Texas (USA Southwest champion) against Pearl City, Hawaii (USA West), which is making its third straight appearance in Taylor.

Two other teams - Maracaibo, Venezuela (Latin America champion), and South Bend, Ind. (USA Central champion) - will play their first games on Monday.

Teams compete in round-robin format in either the International of USA pool. Four games are scheduled Sunday through Thursday. The top two teams in each pool play for the International championship at 5 p.m. Friday and the USA championship at 8 p.m.

The International and USA champions play for the world championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Admission is $4 per day per carload or $7 for a pass for the entire week. Both fees include parking. Heritage Park is located at 12111 Pardee Road, between Goddard and Northline roads, one mile east of Telegraph Road.

Select games will be broadcast over the Internet at www.cityoftaylor.com/listen. The world championship game will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by ESPN.

The Junior League Word Series is considered the big brother of the Little League World Series, the event for 12-year-olds played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Taylor has hosted the Junior League World Series since its inception in 1981.

Greg Bzura, founder and director of the World Series, welcomed all of the teams to Taylor. All of these teams are champions when they arrive, he said.

Indeed, each of the USA champions had to beat other all-star teams in their own state, then win a state championship and then defeat other state champions in regional tournaments in various sections of the country.

For example, Pearl City - which won a world championship in 1984 - won the West Region that consisted of 11 state champions: Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Northern and Southern California, plus the host team in Beaverton, Oregon.

The teams from Canada and Mexico emerged as national champions after defeating the best teams in other provinces or states. Canada plays in the World Series every year. Mexico - celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first appearance in Taylor - receives an automatic berth every other year, alternating with Puerto Rico.

The teams from Indonesia, Germany and Venezuela beat national champions from other countries to make it to Taylor.

Germany won the Europe, the Middle East and Africa Region that also included Lithuania, England, Belarus, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Moldova, Slovenia and Spain.

Venezuela won a Latin America Region that also included teams from St. Thomas, St. Crois, Puerto Rico, Tortola, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Maarten, Curacao and last year's world champion, Panama.

To dates, teams have come from 27 different states. Indonesia becomes the 16th country to play in the World Series.

Umpires in the series also meet the challenging qualifications to participate in the series. An umpire cannot participate until such time as he or she has previously umpired in state and regional championships. Prior to this year, umpires had come to Taylor from 31 states and 10 other countries.

Those with Internet access can also find the complete schedule, results, history and photos of the World Series on www.cityoftaylor.com/worldseries.