Babe Ruth tournament big success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2003

The Valley baseball team is on its way to the 2003 Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota, but the players on the Alabama and Southeast Regional Championship team are not the only winners.

The City of Andalusia is also a big winner because it did so well hosting the 2003 Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Tournament it could host future tournaments.

The City of Andalusia might even get the opportunity to host a Babe Ruth World Series in the near future. Andalusia did an outstanding job hosting the regional, according to players, coaches, fans and Babe Ruth officials.

The visitors from seven states enjoyed themselves and had only glowing compliments for Andalusia after their stay.

Good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality played a big role in the success of the tournament along with a good dose of chamber-of-commerce weather that meant only one game was delayed due to rain. The hard work of everyone involved, however, was the biggest key to the success of the tournament.

Dwight Mikel, Assistant State Commissioner of Babe Ruth and Director of the City of Andalusia's Department of Leisure Services, said the regional was almost flawless.

"It went fantastic," Mikel said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "Everybody did a great job from the host families to the volunteers who volunteered to work in the concession stand.

"Everybody did their job to its fullest extent and beyond," Mikel added.

Wem Mellown, President of the Andalusia Babe Ruth League and Tournament Director, applauded the work of everyone involved.

"I just want to thank our community for the great job they did," Mellown said. "And, for the friendliness they displayed to all of our people coming in.

"The host homes were just wonderful," he added. "All in all, it was just a wonderful tournament. I don't think we could have asked for a better one. I hope it will lead to some other things for us."

The community came together and supported the tournament and that was one of the biggest reasons for its success.

"People all over town stepped up, even people who didn't have kids involved in it," Mellown said. "They worked the concession stand and the press box for us. The city employees were great."

The fans of the 10 teams participating in the tournament could often be overheard talking about their experiences in Andalusia and the surrounding area. While it was easy to find out what they thought of the area it was very difficult to find someone who was not impressed with how smoothly the tournament was run, especially the banquet.

Coaches offered unsolicited compliments about every aspect of the tournament, especially the laundry service provided for the team uniforms and the delicious treats in the hospitality trailer.

Mellown said the coverage of the tournament in The Andalusia Star-News was one of aspect of the community the fans visiting Andalusia enjoyed the most.

"We appreciate all of the Star-News coverage," Mellown said. "The families really enjoyed that. I saw stacks of newspapers going out.

"We got some great coverage," Mellown added.

Even the umpires made complimentary remarks. Umpires who have been to several state and regional tournaments at all levels of competition were impressed with the organization of the tournament and the eagerness of the officials to please everyone involved.

Tournament officials even did an exit survey asking fans to fill out a form to rate their overall tournament experience.

"We got no negative feedback at all as far as the operation of the tournament," Mikel said. "They fell in love with the community and the people of the community and the way they opened their arms up to them.

"Everybody was extremely complimentary," Mikel added. "The steering committee did an outstanding job."

Mikel has been involved with youth sports for more than 30 years and even he was impressed.

"This is the best I've ever seen, bar none, and I've been to three (Babe Ruth) World Series," Mikel said.

Maybe his next World Series will be right here in Andalusia.