A lot of hard work has gone into putting on these tournaments. Uniforms had to be ordered for 95 players and coaches. There are also orders for extra hats and t-shirts to go on sale. The schedules for each tournament had to be created. The most difficult part will be making sure everything runs smoothly once the tournaments begin. Spanish Springs Cal Ripken president Rich Hutson tried to make the schedule for the announcers, scorekeepers and snack bar volunteers to coordinate when their child isn’t playing, so they can watch the games.
“In terms of man hours, I couldn’t even begin to tell you,” Hutson said. “We have people on our board and families of players who have put in the efforts to run our programs and get our fields ready. I couldn’t even speculate how many hours people have put in, but it definitely is a large amount of time. We‘ve had quite a bit of time to prepare for this, but the real work starts when the tournament is here.”
And there is plenty of excitement around Spanish Springs hosting the event since there is talk of Cal Ripken baseball expanding by two or three leagues as early as next year in the Silver State. Hutson said they would take advantage of hosting their own state tournaments as long as they can because everyone will be traveling far when Las Vegas comes up in the rotation to host state.
There will also be some new additions at the complex this year. Batting cages were recently installed for teams to warm up prior to games. But the big change is the installation of lights on one of the fields, which allows for flexibility of scheduling games.
With that addition, some of the younger kids won’t be forced to play under the hot sun.
“With that division, it’s going to be great. We’re hopefully going to be able to stagger the games,” Hutson said. “We have had lights on our Field 1 for a couple seasons now. If everything works out, we’ll have them on our Field 3 where our 10-year-olds and 9-year-olds play. We’re going to hopefully miss that tough part of the day for those kids where the sun just beats down on the third baseman, shortstop and left field. My own kids are ecstatic. My older kid will be leaving that field this year and moving on to the big field. The other one hopefully next year will be playing on that field. They’re both really excited about being able to play under the lights.”
The 8-year-olds is the largest division with four teams and will begin play July 12th. Spanish Springs has the only 9-year-old team and automatically earns a berth to the regional tournament in Los Altos, Calif. However, Hutson has convinced the three 10-year-old All-Star squads to take on the 9-year-olds in what equates to glorified scrimmages.
Also competing next week are two teams in the 11-70’ and 12-70’ divisions, but they won’t start until Saturday.
Spanish Springs also has an 11-year-old All-Star team competing in Fallon in the 60-foot division this weekend. The winner of that best-three-series heads to Rose Park, Utah for regionals.
This is Hutson’s first year as league president, and while it hasn’t been more work than he expected, he has been grateful for the community as a whole.
“We really accomplished more than I thought we would just as far as our fundraising efforts and showing something for those efforts in a really timely manner,” Hutson said. “With the last set of lights, those guys worked so hard for many years before being able to get them up. We were able to bypass some of the time they had to put into it. We were able to put the cages up and the lights. To me, those are two huge things.
“One of the big stressors for me at the beginning of the season was after our sign-ups, we didn’t have nearly as many kids as we did last year. I was real pleased by Opening Day, we had just about the same amount as we had, just over 550 kids.”
Hutson also wanted to specifically thank player agent Shannon Bell
“Without her time and effort, none of the kids would be able to play,” Hutson said.