SC Times’ Tom Elliott: Let the games begin

–by Tom ElliottSt. Cloud Times

Amateur baseball gets its official opening this weekend in three area leagues: the Stearns County, Central Valley and Victory leagues.

Hey, nice to see you all again. Lookin’ good. Missed you.

It was a long winter.

Amateur baseball is undoubtedly the area’s oldest organized sport. There are newspaper accounts of St. Cloud playing in a state tournament in 1860. (St. Cloud took second, just like Beaudreau’s Bar did in Class B in 2014).

The current incarnation of amateur baseball has been under the official guidance of the Minnesota Baseball Association, which was formed in 1924.

It continues today and has a huge following in Central Minnesota, though not necessarily in St. Cloud. More than 12,000 fans are expected for the three-weekend state tournament.

This season, everyone hopes the year ends either in Dassel or Hutchinson, the two main sites for the state tournament. No one’s going to mind some early round games in Litchfield, either. Optimist Park is the third site for games.

Dundas (Class B) and Plato (Class C) captured last year’s state titles in Cold Spring and Watkins, which by all accounts were a roaring success.

Expect Cold Spring, which has been host to numerous state tournaments, to be back eventually with Watkins, which was host to its first and did it well.

Like last year, 48 Class C and 16 Class B teams qualify for state through regional play in July and August.

It’ll be largely the same as it has been. Class C teams may draft pitchers from within their league or region to pitch in the playoffs. Class B teams can’t.

Class C teams must have players from within their league’s radius, which is generally 6 miles in the Stearns County League, 9 miles in the Central Valley League and 30 miles everywhere else. There are exceptions within those leagues, too inside baseball to describe here.

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