The Grand Forks International (GFI) baseball tournament has come and gone for another year. There was certainly plenty of great, close games and some strong teams.
The beer garden was a popular place for the adult crowd. For the younger crowd, there was also plenty of fun to be had with base running and impromptu ball games right behind the stands.
Bringing in 12 teams from out of town as well as a number of fans, friends and relatives, the GFI is a great economic driver as they say. The bars were busy and motel rooms were very hard to come by.
It’s unfortunate after all those hours of work put in by numerous volunteers that the weather turned out to be so bad. It looks like local baseball fans are a fickle bunch. Once the rain came, most went home.
Of course, the weather is one thing the operating committee cannot control. You can plan make plans to help lessen the impact, but once the wet stuff starts falling there’s not much you can do except wait it out.
Although numbers were decent on the final day, the fact that it took place on a regular Monday didn’t help. The Canada Day holiday was Tuesday and that meant most people were at work on Monday.
As far as competition goes, for several reasons the level of competition was down from previous years. There was also a lack of true international flavour that the tournament had in the past with teams from China, Japan, Taiwan and Russia.
But after a year off and a date switch, it’s almost like a new start for the GFI.
The start of summer means tournament teams can have college players. The old date (early September) was also right before Nationals, which made it tough to attract top-level Canadian teams.
Here’s also hoping that the return of the GFI will spur young baseball players to excel at the sport. Recent GFSS graduate Isiah McDonald is already making waves with a Canadian all-star team in a tournament in the Dominican Republic. McDonald will be playing for Thompson Rivers University’s baseball team next year in Kamloops.
Here’s hoping some time in the near future Isiah will be able to lead a Grand Forks team back to the GFI. That would really give the local crowd something to cheer about.