Making Memories on the Diamond
Published: February 14, 2013
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Cooperstown, New York and baseball go hand-in-hand.
Being the site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ensures that much.
The town also hosts the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame, which hosts 13 weekly tournaments for 12-and-under baseball teams at the Cooperstown Dreams Park complex.
Once again, a team from the Abingtons will participate as 12 players will represent the Abington Blaze in a 104-team tournament from Aug. 3-9.
"It's been a tradition that Abington sends a team up to Cooperstown," Blaze head coach Jeff Armbruster said, adding that Abington is grandfathered in, so there is a place for a team based on previous appearances in the event. "You have to sign up a year in advance."
That process began last year when Armbruster started to gauge the level of interest among players and their families.
"It was by word-of-mouth in the community," Armbruster said. "Most are players in the Abington Little League. We set the team in October of 2012," Armbruster said. "It's ask around, see who is interested in playing and see who can afford it."
Armbruster likened it to planning a family vacation, spending a week revolving around baseball. It is for the diehards who can't get enough baseball.
"It's a lot like a mini-Williamsport," Armbruster said, referring to the Little League World Series held every August.
The similarities go right down to having some of the same festivities and atmosphere like you would find in Williamsport that week.
"There is a welcoming ceremony with banners," Armbruster said. "I've heard from people who have been there and are still talking about it years later."
Even though the event is months away, this endeavor not only takes a lot of work on the baseball field, but it also takes planning, time and money.
"We have a lot of miscellaneous expenses," Armbruster said, rattling off items like getting a banner, ordering pins so the players can exchange them with players from other teams, housing for coaches and parents, practice shirts for the players and more.
"Even though it's in August, we're trying to raise money before the summer, because once summer comes, everyone is trying to raise money," said Anthony Abdalla, a parent of a Blaze player who is in charge of fundraising.
The team is seeking to raise $4,500 for the tournament, in which the team will play six games to get seeded for a single-elimination tournament at the end of the week.
"We're asking for corporate sponsors," Armbruster said. "Once we hit our goal, we'll stop fundraising. We're not trying to raise additional money."
A corporate sponsor letter started the process and the team has a few other things up their sleeves to try to raise money.
"We're going to have a comedy night on Friday, March 22, at the Ramada Inn in Clarks Summit for $25 a ticket; we're hoping to sell 250," said parent Anthony Abdalla, who is in charge of fundraising. "There will be comedians from New York City."
This means that some funny guys from New York will help some kids go to New York to play baseball in the place where the sport was purportedly born.
In a place like Cooperstown, where baseball is still king, the players and their families will spend nearly all their time with the national pastime.
"It's all about baseball. There's no time for anything else," Armbruster said. "There is not a lot of downtime. We are going to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame."
When they are not on the field playing games, they will still have baseball activities to do.
"There is a skill competition," Armbruster said. "There is the Golden Arm, for long throwing; Around the Horn, for running the bases; and King of Swat, a home run hitting contest. We are allowed to have one player per competition."
It will all add up to an eventful week for the players and their families, a lifetime of memories to be made and remembered forever.