Murray Hosts Babe Ruth Regional Tournament
Aug 26, 2016 12:33PM
By Sarah Almond
The Murray Spartans made it to the fourth round of the tournament before losing 12-1 to the Reedley California team. Top row left to right: Jaxon Konishi, Ryan Wolfe, Ryan King, Ben Beal, Chris Thompson, Davis Foster. Bottom row left to right: Noah Hardman, Jaden Durfee, Mitch Valez, Sony Smith, Nick Cooper. (Craig Lake/Murray)
“In the six years that I’ve been involved with Murray Babe Ruth this was the best tournament I’ve seen,” President of Murray Babe Ruth Baseball Craig Lake said.
Babe Ruth League, Inc. was formed in Hamilton Township, N.J. in 1951 when 10 men developed a baseball program for boys between ages 13 and 15 in hopes of giving them the tools they need to develop into contributing members of the community.
Since its inception more than 60 years ago, the non-profit organization now has more than 60,000 chartered teams with a combined one million co-ed players. Nearly two-million volunteers help run more 11,000 leagues across the nation — several of which are in the Salt Lake valley.
Murray’s Babe Ruth baseball league is an organization independent from Murray City that is chartered under the National Babe Ruth League and associated with the Utah Babe Ruth Baseball organization.
“This year I had six teams made of up kids that all lived within my boundaries,” Lake said.
The Murray boundaries in which Lake is referring to encompass any child between the ages of 13 and 18 that attend school or work between Cottonwood High School and Murray High School. Kids that attend Skyline High School and Olympus High School have the choice of joining either the Spartan’s team or the East Side team.
“We had 12 kids on each team, so about 70 players total,” Lake said. “We’re a mid-sized league. Places like Riverton have a ton of kids but other areas like East Side only have a few teams.”
Because of the amount of kids who joined Murray Babe Ruth this season, Lake was able to divide the teams up by age, creating two teams of 13 year olds, two teams of 14 year olds, and two teams of 15 year olds. These teams also competed separately at the state tournament.
“This year I had four teams that played in the state tournament,” Lake said. “My 13-year-old team won state and went to Arizona to play in the regional tournament; my 14-year-old team took second in state, and my 15-year-old team took third place.”
In 2012, Murray hosted the Babe Ruth World Series where region champions from across the country competed for the national title. Eager to host another event, Lake applied to host the 2016 14-Year-Old Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament at the Ken Price Ball Park in Murray; his application was accepted by Utah State Babe Ruth commissioners.
“Murray always does a great job — there is no doubt about that,” Utah State Babe Ruth League President and CEO Mario Mascaro said. “The people behind the scenes work so hard and are always there to support and represent Murray City.”
Because Murray hosted the regional tournament, the Spartans’ 14-year-old team got an automatic bid, along with Cyprus who won the state tournament.
“Our Murray team did pretty well,” Lake said. “They went 2-2 in the tournament which was pretty good considering how tough the competition was.”
Murray welcomed nine of the best teams from across the Pacific Southwest region. Though the Spartans lost to the Reedley, Calif. team in the fourth round of the tournament, Lake was impressed with how well the Spartans and other region teams did.
“It was really, really good baseball,” Lake said. “It was a lot of fun to watch these teams who have just high-quality, good players and good kids,” Lake said. “We had 135 kids who traveled in, all 14 year olds, and they are all well behaved.”
The teams played 17 games over a five-day period, and while Lake notes that hosting a regional tournament was easier than a World Series, he does admit that the event took a lot of effort, coordination, and support from volunteers across the Murray area.
“It was a lot of work,” Lake said. “And I had a great group of volunteers that helped plan it and put it on. Murray City is a huge supporter of Murray Babe Ruth and Babe Ruth Baseball. Without the support from Murray City and all of the volunteers, we wouldn’t have had the success that we did.”
With another Babe Ruth series in the books, Mascaro, Lake, and baseball fan throughout Murray City are looking forward an eventful 2017 season. For more information on Murray Babe Ruth Baseball or to sign up for the spring season, visit murraybaberuth.org.