BLWS another success for Easley

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — The Big League Baseball World Series was another grand slam this year, exposing the city of Easley to a global audience.

Tournament director Jon Humphrey spoke before Easley City Council members last week, thanking the city and its employees for their continued support of the event.

“We couldn’t put it on without all of the support,” Humphrey said.

This year, the work of first responders in the area was recognized at the tournament, which held a First Responders Night.

“I thought that was wonderful,” Humphrey said. “It really had a good impact. It showed the community, those people that help and support each day, the fire (department), the first responders, the police. I think we’re going to see if we can grow that activity a little bit.”

He thanked the Easley Police Department for its work during the tournament.

“The support from the police department’s been wonderful,” Humphrey said.

This year, the EPD’s command center was moved near the press box.

“That was a great idea. It gave them a lot of visibility,” Humphrey said. “They were interacting with the fans.”

This year’s tournament went smoothly, with few issues, he said.

Humphrey echoed councilman Terry Moore’s earlier praise of the facilities.

“Tim Mobley and that group down there, they work miracles,” Humphrey said. “From growing grass when you don’t think the grass is going to grow to making things look good, they do a great job.”

“It showed well on ESPN,” he continued. “I’m thrilled with the work that those guys do — and everybody at the rec department, all the support we get from all the different departments.”

He said a crowd of 1,300 people were at the ballpark watching the championship game, which was broadcast live on ESPN once again.

“Some people might say that might not be a huge crowd.” Humphrey said. “But to not have a local team in there, for having two teams that are closer together than they are to Easley, because we had Hawaii and Chinese-Taipei in the final game, to have those two teams in there and to have that kind of support, we had some great support.”

Some fans came up in buses from Atlanta to help cheer on Chinese-Taipei.

Chinese-Taipei, representing Asia-Pacific, won the championship.

The exposure Easley gets from the tournament doesn’t stop with the championship game, Humphrey said.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell recognized Easley in his tribute to the team and the coaches representing the East, which was presented to them upon their return to their home state.

“I think that’s kind of a unique thing,” Humphrey said. “It’s an unique way for us to get our name out, about our city, about community. The people that come here, they have great things to say about our facilities.”

He thanked the local volunteers and sponsors.

“Their support means the world to us,” Humphrey said.

Pat Wilson, Little League International vice president of operations, visited Easley for the first time since 2006 during this year’s tourney, Humphrey said.

“He was thrilled with the program, thrilled with the facilities,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of improvements, and he noted almost every one. He came back to me and ‘Hey, this looks good. You guys did a great job here — the fencing, the stands, the netting.’ All of those things he picked up on. I was really happy with that. It’s good to hear positive things come out of him.”

It won’t be long before the volunteers begin preparing for next year’s event.

“We’re resting a little bit now,” Humphrey said.

Mayor Larry Bagwell thanked Humphrey for his work as tournament director. He said he’d spoken with Wilson about Little League officials’ satisfaction with the tournament and its home in Easley.

“He said ‘As long as we’ve got this guy doing the show, we’re happy,’” Bagwell said. “So, Jon, I just want to tell people what kind of job you do. They realize it up there in Pennsylvania, so just keep on keeping on.”