Forget about the draft. Forget about the current crop of draftees that will hustle and succeed and hustle and fail. Let’s talk about an entire team of prospects that are headed for Cooperstown. The Jupiter Hammerheads. In this case, I’m not referring to the high-A team affiliated with the Miami Marlins, but about a team of 12-year-olds selected to play in a week-long tournament against 103 other teams from around the country.
These kids are the best 12-year-old baseball players that my adopted hometown of Jupiter can field. We’ve got one kid with a 62 MPH fastball, six with home runs in the double digits, and another with jaw-dropping 300-foot power. At 8:00 this morning, everyone loads up and heads north to the rolling hills of upstate New York. The team has been together since 2009, with this tournament as the overarching goal. Cooperstown, New York is the destination. Specifically, the 22-field Cooperstown Dreams Park, about five miles outside the home of the Hall of Fame.
This trip is an opportunity for the boys to play ball against above-average teams from across the country. It’s three days of three-game-per-day pool play, then two days of single elimination brackets. There is a day of All-Star style skills competitions, including home run derbys and long-throw accuracy competitions. The boys will spend the week living in close quarters with all of the other teams. Parents are invited to go the hell away and find someplace in town to sleep. There are 50 or so barracks-style huts that house two teams each. Three coaches from each team serve as chaperones, and each team is required to supply a hometown umpire willing to spend a week calling five games a day.
It should be a hoot and a half, especially since I’m not one of the chaperones.
I am, however, the team’s highly unofficial scorekeeper, and I’ll be scorecasting the games live. If you want to really get back to the roots of the game, Here is your chance to follow it from home.