BLWS dissolved, new tournament coming to Easley

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — Easley will continue to remain the home of summer baseball, but the players are going to be a little younger than in years past.

On Aug. 26, the Little League International Board of Directors decided to do some restructuring, Big League Baseball World Series tournament director Jon Humphrey said.

Humphrey spoke at the September meeting of Easley Council on Monday.[cointent_lockedcontent]“They dissolved the Big League Baseball and Big League Softball programs,” Humphrey said.

Beginning in 2017, the Little League Baseball and Softball programs will focus on providing more opportunities for children ages 4 to 16.

That means Easley will no longer host, as it has for more than 10 years, the Big League Baseball World Series each summer.

It will now host the Senior League World Series.

“In 2017, instead of having the Big League Baseball World Series, they’ve asked us to host the Senior League World Series, which will be 13 to 16 year-olds,” Humphrey said. “A little bit younger guys coming.”

He said the tournament will be a “true World Series,” just as the BLWS has been.

“We’ll have teams from all over the world again,” Humphrey said.

The decision to move that tourney from its current home in Bangor, Maine, to Easley was not an easy one, Humphrey said.

“They love Bangor, they love Easley,” he said. “They love the volunteers, they love the cities. Both cities do so much for the tournaments.”

But Easley had several advantages over Bangor, he said.

“When they looked at costs, the costs to get the fans to the location, to get the players to the location, the umpires, to get into Bangor, they determined that the costs were much higher than in Easley,” Humphrey said.

Easley being relatively close to three airports — Greenville/Spartanburg, Atlanta and Charlotte — was a big advantage.

“For Bangor, it’s a little more difficult,” Humphrey said. “They have the Bangor airport, they have Portland. But then they were flying kids into Boston and then driving them for four hours.”

Clemson University’s cooperation — housing players in dorms during the tournament — was another win for Easley.

“They really do like that program down there,” Humphrey said, of Little League officials. “They want to encourage that. I think that was another plus for us.”

Humphrey and Little League officials believe that the Senior League will see more participation than the Big League did.

“I think the participation in the Senior level is much higher than in the Big League level,” Humphrey said. “That’s one of the things that they were finding. Big League baseball, that age group, had a lot of competition from a lot of different programs. But, at the Senior level, they’ll have a lot of participation. The number of kids worldwide that play in the senior division is much more than what was in Big League. So we’ll have the teams.”

He said that with younger players — Little League is now capped at age 16 — he expects a lot more families traveling to cheer their players on.

“Parents and grandparents coming to watch the younger kids or grandchildren,” Humphrey said. “I think you’ll probably see a lot more people travel at that age.”

Humphrey said he will know more about the first Senior League World Series in Easley after November.

“They’re trying to finish everything for this year, get all the bills paid, get everything organized and then we’ll start planning in November,” he said. “We’ll have some more details at that time.”