IT’S t-minus seven weeks and counting until Jackson County welcomes 80 to 100 teams for three Dizzy Dean baseball world series in July. The folks at the county parks and recreation department are bracing for the bonanza.
“We’re holding on like crazy,” Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department director Ricky Sanders joked.
This is the third-straight year the Jackson County department has hosted a Dizzy Dean World Series, but it’s never taken on multiple events like it will July 14-19. The 9-year-old world series is slated for West Jackson Park, while the 11-year-old tournament is at East Jackson Park and the 13-year-old tournament is at Lamar Murphy Park. This makes Jackson County only the second agency to land three Dizzy Dean world series events in a year.
Sanders said the department is beefing up its volunteer lists currently to meet the demands of hosting three events. It has 20 volunteers so far on its roster and needs between 60 and 70 to help coordinate this six-day extravaganza. Volunteering doesn’t have to be for an extended period, Sanders said. Those interested can just volunteer for a one-day, eight-hour shift.
Sanders said more of the finer details – securing umpires, coordinating game schedules and intensified field maintenance – will come into focus with the regular season now ending for baseball and softball. The finishing touches are being put on the new West Jackson Park which Sanders calls “gorgeous,” and all three ball fields will be off limits after July 4 when ground crews kick into high gear to fine-tune those venues for six days of baseball and around 1,000 pairs of cleats.
“This is the third time we’ve done it, so we’re getting pretty good at it,” Sanders said.
Jackson County also continues to seek sponsors for the event. The department already has 15 to 18 businesses signed on. Sanders expects more will follow to support the event, noting that the scope of this year’s Dizzy Dean experience spans three different areas in the county.
And the event will bring out-of-town traffic – and spending dollars – to the area.
Fifteen teams from Florida expected to participate and possibly 35-40 from Alabama. Overall, Sanders projects as many as 100 teams will make their way to Jackson County.
“We’ll have plenty of out-of-state teams, believe me,” Sanders said.
That means fans will get a chance to see tons of action from numerous teams from different areas and age levels.
“The baseball junkies ought to have a great time,” Sanders said.
Meanwhile, the Jackson County Parks and Recreation will be plenty busy between now and mid-July preparing for it all.
All those preparations will culminate with the July 14 opening ceremonies at Gresham Motorsports Park. But once those start, hosting tournaments almost becomes old hat.
“After the opening ceremonies, I always breathe a big sigh of relief,” Sanders said.