The 15th Cal Ripken World Series began Friday in Aberdeen, MD at the Ripken Experience powered by Under Armour complex. The complex located next to Ripken Stadium, home of the Aberdeen IronBirds, has eight youth fields including Cal Sr’s Yard and Nationals Field, which this tournament uses.
The World Series is the final tournament of the Babe Ruth League’s Cal Ripken Division for the 12 and under crowd. Teams play on a field with 70-foot base paths and a 50-foot pitching distance. Ten domestic teams and eight international teams play in the week-long event. This year is the first for Puerto Rico and New Zealand. Japan is the defending international and overall champion.
Domestically the teams are Harford County, Maryland State, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Midwest Plains, Ohio Valley, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Southeast and Southwest. The Maryland State team is from Prince George’s County while the Mid-Atlantic team is from nearby Bear, Delaware. The Harford County representative is the Hickory Hornets.
A Guinness World Record for “Most People Blowing a Bubble Gum Bubble Simultaneously” was accomplished as part of Friday’s opening ceremonies. 721 people smashed the prior record of 544. A skills competition and home run derby followed the opening ceremony. For the second straight year a local Hickory player won the home run derby as Colton Knoble beat Australia’s Matthew Martin.
The first two days of the event already had some interesting results with Australia’s 6-2 win over Mexico being the most notable. Harford County’s first-day victory over Mid-Atlantic is also considered an upset. The locally represented squads are always seen as having a disadvantage as they lack the resources and depth of talent of the more established Cal Ripken Little Leagues.
All games are free to attend and run through Saturday August 16, the day of the overall championship. On Friday August 15 the United States and International Championships will be held.