Batter up!! The 2014 Grand Forks International (GFI) baseball tournament is finally upon us. After months of preparation including a year off in 2013, the GFI kicked off today (Wednesday) with a 1:30 p.m. game between the Nanaimo Coalminers and the North West Honkers.
In all, there are three games today plus an ALS fundraiser exhibition game between two youth teams. Taking the field at 7 p.m. are the Grand Forks Babe Ruth Juniors and the Castlegar Warriors. The youth game is followed by the opening game for the closest team, the Trail Orioles. The Orioles face the West Coast Guns at 8 p.m.
On Tuesday, the GFI committee hosted a volunteer and sponsor appreciation evening with drinks and appetizers and a great chance to mingle and talk about the upcoming tournament and past highlights.
Organizer Joan Thomas told the Gazette earlier in the week that preparations for the GFI have gone well and the organizing committee is ready for some ball.
“Everything is looking good,” she said. “We’ve had a few changes in teams but that always happens. I was down at the park earlier and everything is looking really good. We’ve been getting lots of positive feedback around the community.”
Thursday sees five games, plus the opening ceremonies at 7:30 p.m. There are another five games in the round-robin portion on Friday and Saturday.
After the round robin, eight teams make it to the money round which goes Sunday with four games.
Three games are played on Monday including the championship final at 2:30 p.m.
Of course, baseball is about more than just the game. The GFI has free bingo during all 25 games. People can win some cool prizes donated by local businesses right from their seats.
There’s a family-friendly zone behind right field with shade and seating where parents can watch their children, enjoy the games and visit with their friends all at the same time.
Also for the kids are plenty of activities such as the Toss-a-Ball for ALS, Run the Bases, and meet and greet with the players.
There’s also plenty of tasty food available at the concession stands. The Hard Ball Café, located under the grandstand, has a full menu to help keep you cheering through the whole tournament. There’s also a smaller concession in the large blue building with soft drinks, ice cream, popcorn and more.
In addition, you can also find some great GFI souvenirs to help remember the good times.
Be sure to check out the GFI Hall of Fame located in the blue building where you can find photos and information about players who went on to perform in the major leagues.
Thomas said the tournament truly has something for everyone. As for picking a favourite, she is a little more reluctant to make a selection.
“It’s hard—they’re all good,” said Thomas. “This time of year they have different access to college players than we’ve seen in the past when we had it in September. It makes it really hard to predict.”
All games and events are at James Donaldson Park.