Optimist Club Little League Baseball Tournament
By DANIEL PARKER
Jul 12, 2017, 14:48
A pitcher pulls back to throw a pitch during last years Optimist Tournament.
Nearing the four decade mark, the Hopewell Optimist Club Baseball tournament is still swinging, bringing little league teams throughout the area a chance to compete.
For 37 years, the Optimist Club has partnered with Hopewell’s Park and Recreations Department to keep the Hopewell tradition going. The Recreations Department handles the paperwork and contacting teams to participate in the event. The Optimist Club prepares the field and handles the games.
“Many of these coaches are coming back – it’s like a homecoming for them. We’ve tried our best to keep up that tradition,” said Howard Henderson. “Our club really looks forward to being a part of it.”
This year, the scheduling of other tournaments put a potential roadblock in place for some of the participating teams. The Dixie League State Tournament and the BIB Tournament were on the same dates as the Optimist Club schedule.
Dixie League rules state a team can only compete in one tournament at a time to participate in the state tournament, with Prince George and the Hopewell All-Stars all going to the state tournament. The Optimist Club decided to adjust its schedule.
“We didn’t want to exclude some teams that thought they were going to be in this tournament,” said Herman Henderson, Optimist Club Board of Directors and Committee Chair for the tournament. “We wanted to do our best to do what we could do for our kids if they win then we would cross that bridge.”
This year the tournament will be played on back to back days, instead of held on each weekend for a series of weeks. The Tournament will begin on July 22 for the 9 to 10 age group with a double elimination rule for teams.
Ricky Irby played in the league from 86 to 89, now he’s one of the coaches for the Hopewell All-Stars and will be seeing his son, Jake Irby compete. Irby’s son wouldn’t be able to participate in the tournament if adjustments to the schedule weren’t made because his team will be competing at the state level.
“It’s been going on for years and is well known and well respected by baseball people all across the regions,” said Irby. “My hat goes off to the Optimist Club and Recreation Department for making adjustments to the schedule to allow our kids to play.”
The tournament will be held at Mathis Park in the Crystal Lake area, The games will start at 9 a.m. Entry for fans is free with concessions on the field.
“It brings back lots of very fond memories,” said Coach Irby “It’s pretty awesome that this tournament is still running strong after all these years!”