April 26, 2018
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Sr. League tourney has appeal


I may not have enough patience to rank among the truest of baseball fans.

Generally speaking, give me the instant gratification of a high-scoring basketball game or the physicality of football.

But having said that, the Senior League World Series continues to rank as a personal favorite on the local sports calendar each year — for it has a little bit of everything,

The stakes surely are high. These kids, ages 14 through 16, are playing for a world championship; it doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Sure, the opening ceremonies feature a parade of champions depicting all 10 teams as kindred spirits grateful for the mere chance to play ball.

But once pool play begins, the SLWS becomes just as much about winning and losing as any other competition, even more so to the teams with serious ideas about realizing the championship dream.

And though we may not know it for a few years, there will be some big-time individual talent on hand, as evidenced from the success stories of several alumni from the first seven years the Senior League World Series has called Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium home.

Jair Jurrjens and Shairon Martis, teammates on the 2002 and 2003 Curacao SLWS teams, already have been part of major league pitching rotations this season.

Jurrjens, 23, is one of the top starters for the Atlanta Braves with a 9-8 record and a 3.01 earned run average that ranks 12th among all National League pitchers.

Martis, 22, was brought up ahead of schedule by the Washington Nationals this spring due to injuries on that pitching staff and went 5-3 in 15 starts. The righthander then was sent down to Class AAA Syracuse in late June and currently is 3-2 for that team.

Then there’s Dominic Brown of Dade City, Fla., a 2004 SLWS star who today is the top minor league prospect of the Philadelphia Phillies. The 21-year-old Brown currently is hitting .342 for the Reading Phillies of the Class AA Eastern League, and he is projected by Baseball America as the Phillies’ starting right fielder in 2012.

Brown also was prominently mentioned in trade talks between Philly and Toronto for prized Blue Jays’ pitcher Roy Halliday.

Those three are among dozens of SLWS alums who have made their way to the pro ranks or major college programs after showcasing their skills in the SLWS.

One other appealing element of the series is the presence of a local interest. The Maine District 3 champs generally have been competitive — not easy given that the locals don’t face the level of competition seen by most of the other tournament qualifiers en route to its SLWS berth, as well as given the self-induced pressure to prove they belong in the field as a worthy foe, not just as the host team.

The Senior League World Series has plenty to offer eastern Maine sports fans, but history has shown that save for contests involving the host team and the large crowds that generally turn out for the championship game, interest in the event is confined largely to the truest of baseball fans.

And that has made the financial stability of the series an annual source of some concern that ultimately threatens its staying power in the Queen City.

Granted, this is a busy time of year for fairs, festivals, trips to camp and other activities that get Mainers outdoors before the kids go back to school.

But the Senior League World Series fits nicely into the entertainment spectrum, too, so here’s hoping a few more folks will take an afternoon to check it out.



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