Sunday August 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- It's back to work, both on and off the field, for the Pittsfield 15-year old Babe Ruth All-Stars.

Practice and fundraising go hand-in-hand for the players and coaches as they prepare to head for Van Buren, Ark., later this week to play in the Babe Ruth World Series.

The team members and coaches will fly out for Van Buren on Wednesday and get ready for the tournament that begins Friday at the Field of Dreams complex in Van Buren, which is a suburb of Fort Smith.

The Opening Ceremonies for the tournament will be held on Friday, Aug. 17, the same day that the first two games of the event are being played.

"We were the last team to qualify. Unfortunately, that gave us only a week to prepare," Pittsfield manager Bob Shade said on Friday. "The other teams had roughly two weeks to get all this stuff done. When we got our paperwork, they said they need it yesterday. It's not easy."

Pittsfield will play its first game on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 7:45 p.m. CST. The New England champions will play the hosts from Van Buren, Ark.

Pittsfield is in the National Division for the pool-play tournament. The other teams in the pool are the hosts, the Middle Atlantic champions from nearby Niskayuna, N.Y., the Southeast champions from Lumber River, N.C., and the Pacific Northwest champions from Kelso, Wash.

Pool play runs until Aug. 22. The top three teams in both pools will play in a single-elimination tournament from there.


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The title game is Saturday, Aug. 25.

Shade said the team is scheduled to depart from Logan Airport in Boston Thursday morning at 7.

Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi will host the team for a ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The players will arrive riding on a fire truck owned by former Pittsfield Babe Ruth president Jim Conant.

After beating Waterford, Conn., twice to win the New England championship last week, Shade said that his team won't be going back to the drawing board as it prepares for the World Series.

"We're just going to try to refine things," said Shade. "They're not going to be really hard practices -- ground balls, fly balls, a little [batting practice]."

Shade said the parents and players met Thursday night to finalize what was needed for the paperwork and how to get it to Babe Ruth officials.

The hard part now is to raise money for parents and families to get to Arkansas. Babe Ruth is picking up the cost for the players and the coaches.

"We don't have a lot of time to hold spaghetti dinners or things like that," said Shade. "It's pretty much going around to the businesses and people in the area, and trying to get some quick donations to help fund this trip."

Anyone interested in donating to the cause can write a check, made out to Pittsfield Babe Ruth, and send it to Pittsfield Babe Ruth, c/o Gildo's Auto Body, 717 East St., Pittsfield, MA, 01201.

Pittsfield's Matt Torra, who pitches for Tampa Bay's Class AAA farm club in Durham, is throwing the players a party on Monday.

Torra, through the Conor Dillon Scholarship Fund, is organizing a pizza party at Teddy's House of Pizza on Monday to help the team. Torra is a former Pittsfield Babe Ruth player.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.