BY DEAN HOCKNEY
Ask anyone in sports, and they will tell you they have a dream to be the best – and most have a goal to reach the highest level possible. Whether that top level goal is Major League Baseball, a Cal Ripken all-star team or simply a starting lineup, athletes are elated when they reach their personal aspirations. One local man did just that – and he did it at the national level.
Kokomo umpire Dan Adams recently traveled to Aberdeen, Md., to officiate at the Cal Ripken Baseball Major/70 World Series, which annually brings together the best 11 and 12-year-old baseball players from around the world. Ten teams from the United States earned their way to the World Series through the traditional all-star post-season tournaments. In addition, six international teams played in the event.
“The whole process for me started last year when I was working the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament, where I have worked as a UIC (umpire-in-chief),” said Adams. They asked me if I was interested in working a world series, and I asked how I could apply, and I was told I just did. So last year I worked the 12-year-old world series in North Carolina on the size of diamonds we use here in Kokomo (46-foot pitcher’s distance, 60-foot base paths).”
Unlike Little League Baseball, the Cal Ripken World Series plays a more traditional form of baseball, which includes 70-foot base paths, 50-foot pitching distance, and allows runners to lead off and steal. In addition, the fences are 30-63 feet farther than the local 200-foot home run distances.
Adams said the North Carolina tournament was not an international tournament, but during that series he was afforded the opportunity to work the plate for a semi-final game. His performance in that World Series opened the door for his Cal Ripken World Series invitation this year.
"I got pretty excited about the invitation,” said Adams. “It was a great honor and was an exciting trip to Maryland. It is great to see the kids play the real game. Little League is so popular because of ESPN, but the baseball is better at Cal Ripken and it is real baseball and what kids will be playing the following year (when they go to high school and Babe Ruth).”
See the September 27 edition of the Sports Journal for the whole story. Digital subcriptions are free!