Extra day to benefit Pony World Series
If last year was any indication, having an extra day at the Pony League World Series can’t be a bad thing. For the first time in the series’ history, games were shortened to five innings after multiple thunderstorms hammered the area.
“You can’t let things that you can’t control get you all upset and off kilter, because then you’ll miss things that you can control,” said Bob Gregg, president of World Series Tournaments Inc., at Thursday’s annual media day.
“We didn’t like it, obviously, but there’s nothing we could do about it. We adjusted as we needed; we changed our schedule.”
This year, when the series returns to Lew Hays Pony Field from Aug. 9-15, there is one more day than usual. The primary purpose for the extra day isn’t for expecting the worst but rather showing off the world series at its best.
With a focus on regionally broadcasting the world series, six games, including the tournament’s championship scheduled for Aug. 15, will be televised on AT&T SportsNet. That number of televised games eclipses the five games that were expected to appear on the network last year before rain limited it to two.
The championship game was pushed back to Thursday to avoid conflict with an afternoon Pittsburgh Pirates game against the Los Angeles Angels that Wednesday afternoon. Other games will be broadcast throughout the week on WJPA and Pikewood Sports, featuring the voices of former Pirates broadcaster Lanny Frattare and Randy Gore.
Five teams have already qualified for the tournament, including two making Pony League World Series debuts. From the European Zone, London will be represented for the first time, after going undefeated in group play, with wins over the Czech Republic and the German Academy. London will make its official World Series debut on Aug. 10, as it will take on Washington County at 2:30 p.m.
“London and folks in England have played baseball for years,” Gregg said. “They had not been overly competitive in the European Zone until the last couple of years. The longer you play, the more you learn how to play the game, playing it at that level, and it’s a high level. The European teams have come here and won games in all but I believe one year that they’ve been coming. So we’re expecting a strong team from London to come here, and (we’ll) see if the Red Coats can take something back from the Yankees.”
Arecibo, located in Puerto Rico, also will be playing for the first time in Washington. Puerto Rican teams have made their presence known at the world series, something Aricebo will hope to do when it plays in the tournament opener against the East Zone champion.
The other three qualifiers have all played in the tournament before. Washington County received an automatic bid as the host, and Guasave, Sinaloa Mexico, and Asia Pacific Zone and defending champion Chinese Taipei will be making another appearance. Chinese Taipei has won three of the past four Pony League World Series championships.
Gregg is excited for another year of the world series being played at the same location where the organization was founded 66 years ago.
“The fact that we play our world series games on the world’s first Pony baseball field is very meaningful,” he said. “There’s so much history. So much baseball has happened in that complex, that it makes it unique. There’s nowhere else like this. This is where it belongs.”