Branson, Missouri played host to the 2017 Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series, with all games being played at Ballparks of America. Ballparks of America is the only facility to feature 2/3 replicas of five iconic stadiums spanning the history of baseball. Each field features the latest technology in synthetic turf for a more consistent playing surface, and has covered dugouts, bullpen areas, MLB-style team suites, and stadium quality lights.
The World Series offered incredible opportunities for the kids to see a new city, explore new surroundings, make new friends, and play their favorite game on a major league field just like the pros.
Even though every one of the 24 participating teams at the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series wanted to win the World Title, they were in town to have fun and represent their home as they play the game they love - things a scoreboard cannot measure in wins and losses.
This year’s tourney not only featured the best 12-year-old “boys of summer”, but also two defiant girls who were in town to represent! Genevieve Beacom from Australia and Brooklyn Tekana from New Zealand, both strong pitchers, were awesome in and of themselves, and fan favorites.
Several exciting events were planned for the World Series attendees, such as a “Family Fun Night”, Skills Competition Rounds, Celebrity Softball Game, and one special event: A Buddy Ball Game for youth with disabilities, held in conjunction with the Special Olympics of Missouri.
Babe Ruth League encourages its member leagues to accept all players regardless of their physical or mental ability. The Bambino Buddy-Ball Division was established for players ages 5-19 who are either physically and/or mentally challenged. This division makes allowance for a “buddy” to help the player swing a bat, round the bases, and catch a ball.
With nearly 4 million athletes in more than 170 countries – 15,000 of them in Missouri, the initiatives of the Special Olympics engage kids with intellectual disabilities through the joy of sport. They build communities and improve the health of their athletes, changing the game for people young and old.
Everyone at the Buddy Ball Game, including the participants, buddies and fans had a fantastic time. We are sure that many of them were inspired to help those with disabilities experience the joy as they do when participating in sports.
Branson, Missouri has long been a popular destination for vacationers with numerous theaters and attractions. In between games, the participants took advantage of the many adventures awaiting them.
While making it to the World Series is an exciting experience and achievement for all the kids who came to play, the friendships forged and memories made will be with them well beyond their time on the diamond. Babe Ruth League is grateful to the Branson Convention & Visitors, the City of Branson, Ballparks of America, the World Series Task Force, Interns and Umpires, as well as the many volunteers and members of the local community for providing the participants with a competitive, diverse cultural and educational experience.