In this summer of discontent for Red Sox nation, the performance of the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Stars has provided a large measure of baseball pleasure for city fans tired of the poor play and clubhouse lawyering of the floundering Sox. The Babe Ruthers have been a consummate team, rallying from the edge of elimination to take the New England championship and advance to the World Series in Van Buren, Arkansas.
After a City Hall sendoff before Mayor Daniel Bianchi and a crowd of well-wishers, manager Bob Shade, his coaching staff and the players embarked upon an exhausting journey to Arkansas, where hot, humid weather and nine other Babe Ruth qualifiers awaited. There is a lot of baseball to be played in the days ahead with the Pittsfield team meeting the host club Sunday night at 8:45 EST to kick off the round-robin portion of the tournament. They will meet up with a relatively local rival from Niskayuna, New York on Monday. The three teams that emerge from pool play take part in a single-elimination competition beginning August 23.
Pittsfield, and Berkshire County as well, have a long tradition of producing talented ballplayers; Mark Belanger, Tom Grieve, Dale Long and Turk Wendell to name just a few. The city takes its baseball seriously, and while this hasn't always translated to support of minor league baseball it is seen in the passionate support of the Red Sox and Yankees at the major league level and on the busy diamonds where youth baseball teams play, their members dreaming of success at higher levels.
The Pittsfield Babe Ruth All-Stars are now enjoying that success, having defeated the best 15-year-old squads the New England states had to offer. They have had a memorable season regardless of what happens next, but the city ballplayers have every reason to continue to dream big as play against the nation's best gets under way in Arkansas.