North Kitsap Babe Ruth offered 2012 national World Series

The stage is set for World Series baseball to come to Kitsap County.

Babe Ruth League, Inc., the national governing body for Babe Ruth baseball, has officially offered the North Kitsap Babe Ruth Baseball Club the chance to host the national championship tournament for 13-year-olds in August 2012.

“It’s great news,” North Kitsap Babe Ruth Tournament Director Brent Stenman said of the announcement. “I had a really good feeling that we were going to get it.”

The series would be played at the Gene Lobe baseball fields at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in East Bremerton. North Kitsap has its own baseball fields, at Snider Park in Poulsbo, but tournament co-director Russ Barker said the facilities do not have the capacity to hold the expected 1,000 spectators per game, and the grounds would need significant improvements to host a tournament of World Series magnitude.

Stenman and Barker first contacted Babe Ruth League, headquartered in New Jersey, about hosting the 2012 World Series in the summer of 2008, after hosting a regional championship for 18-year-old players at the Fairgrounds. The League’s regional commissioner was impressed with the facilities and recommended the club try for the World Series.

In April, Robert Faherty, the national commissioner for Babe Ruth League, visited Kitsap County and inspected the Fairgrounds facilities to determine whether to offer the tournament to the North Kitsap club. In a letter to Stenman dated May 7, Faherty wrote, “I was very impressed with your total community support; including city and county officials, and the commitment you have for the young people in your area. As a result of the inspection and after reviewing my notes, we would like to offer Poulsbo the opportunity to host the 2012 Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series.”

Included in Faherty’s letter are stipulations the North Kitsap club must meet to host the tournament. The club must raise $45,000 to pay Babe Ruth League for the travel expenses of the 10 teams participating in the tournament. Babe Ruth League expects a down payment of $11,250 when the club signs the contract committing to host the tournament.

“Now that we know we’ve been offered the World Series, we have to put together some fundraisers,” Stenman said. “We have some verbal commitments. We don’t have any check in hand yet.”

Stenman is hoping to buy some time with Babe Ruth League before signing the contract.

“We kind of suggested that it might be beneficial to us to sign the contract next April,” Stenman said. “(Faherty) seemed like he was possibly open to that idea. But generally they like to sign the contract two years ahead of time, like this summer.”

The club will also need to partner with the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, which manages the Fairgrounds, to receive exclusive use of the fields and facilities during the tournament, and to control ticket and concession sales.

“There won’t be able to be anything else scheduled on the fields while this is going on,” Stenman said. “We’re really counting on (Parks and Recreation Director) Jim Dunwiddie being a big part of this tournament. I think that will be helpful if we can get him on board. And he’s been nothing but helpful so far.”

Dunwiddie worked with Faherty in New Jersey before being hired by Kitsap County in October.

Stenman said with the help of Dunwiddie, other public officials and local volunteers, he believes things will fall into place for the tournament to happen. The club has already asked for help from the county, and Stenman said officials are willing to assist.

“I’m very confident,” he said.

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