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Community pitching in to feed players

It’s coming together – everything from players arriving from across the nation for the Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series to the local merchants and volunteers working non-stop to make sure things go off without a hitch.

Ten teams from New York, Montana, California, Texas and all points in between will be arriving on site today and Wednesday. The groups will be picked up by church vans from their respective airports and driven to Andalusia, where they will be housed with host families.

After finding homes for the estimated 130 players, the next mission was to determine how to feed them.

Eddie Stacey, World Series chairman, said that’s where local merchants – pardon the pun – stepped up to bat.

“Excellent,” was how Stacey described the community support he’s seen as the World Series chairman in the lead-up to this week’s tournament.

Stacey said the local merchants have been gracious.

“They’ve given nothing but free food, lent money to us and have provided volunteers,” he said. “You name it; they’ve given everything we’ve asked for.”

Stacey said businesses like Little Caesar’s Pizza, Huddle House, Hardees, Church’s Chicken, Beef O’Brady’s, Zaxby’s and Hilltop will make sure the teams are fed.

Gloria Campbell, Hardee’s district manager, said the boys’ welcome bags will be filled with coupons for free bacon, egg and cheese biscuits and “thick burgers.”

“For us, it’s a win-win,” Campbell said. “It’s people inside our store and it helps our community. For us, that’s what it’s all about.”

Skip Enzor at Little Caesar’s will at some point this week deliver 200 pizzas to the ballpark. It was a donation he thought nothing about when asked.

“It’s something we do every time there’s a World Series in town,” Enzor said. “We’ve got pizza making down to a science, and what kid doesn’t love pizza?”

Those at Hilltop Meat Company are donating hamburgers, while others are giving what they can.

Stacey said coaches and players will also be served during the day by eight area churches and that Andalusia Regional Hospital will hold a cook-out for the groups on Sunday.

A “banquet of champions” for the players and coaches will be held Wednesday night, with the first pitch thrown Thursday by Gov. Robert Bentley. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Covington County team will take the mound Thursday at 7 p.m.