Weather postpones tournament a day

Two fields a likely scenario if rain continues

Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Puddles collect on Armagh Memorial Field Tuesday delaying the start of the Babe Ruth 13-15 Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament.

MILROY — While it may not be prudent to start building an ark just yet, the persistent rain the last four days already is wreaking havoc on the 15-year old Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional championship.

Day one of the tournament on Tuesday at Armagh Field was a washout and a bleak weather forecast for most of the week has tournament organizers scrambling to make order out of potential chaos.

Tournament director Lloyd “Sach” Mowery, a retired Babe Ruth Regional Commissioner, has experienced many weather-related problems in his long career with the organization.

“I’ve been in this organization for 55 years, along with my wife Barbie, and we have been subjected to this sort of thing about 20 of those years,” Mowery said. “We’ve run across this stuff on many, many occasions. You have to go with the flow. It’s not a good thing. We have coaches, kids and managers staying in hotel rooms spending money and not playing.”

Ron Zimmerman, Pennsylvania State Babe Ruth Commissioner, takes a pragmatic approach to the bad weather.

“I’d rather see the kids on the field instead of indoors but Mother Nature can be tough sometimes,” Zimmerman said. “We can take care of some things as an official, and the ground crew can do a great job, but Mother Nature has the final say. I’ve seen some nightmares and so far, we’ve got through them all.”

Keeping everybody in good spirits while nature is doing her worst is one of the toughest assignments a tournament director has, especially when the showers continue to fall.

“We have a good field crew out there working hard but it isn’t working. The rain keeps coming,” Mowery said. “It’s normal but in a sense it’s not normal. It’s something you have to expect and you try to make everybody happy, but it doesn’t always work.”

A probable outcome to get the tournament finished is the use of a second field. After one day of cancellations, and with four games slated each day in pool play, the prospect of two fields in use is almost a done deal, although not officially agreed upon yet. On the original schedule, only one extra day was available before the deadline to name the team heading to Longview, Wash.

“We are worrying about getting the schedule in. The last day we can have this tournament is July 31 before the (Babe Ruth) World Series starts on Aug. 8. We have to give them a champion. No question about it we would use two fields. There is no doubt in my mind this will happen,” Mowery said. “We will use Milroy and either Belleville or the Rec Park field. We would split the crew and one person would run one field and someone would run another. My son Tim would run the Belleville field if it comes to that, which it probably will.”

Zimmerman said two fields will be in play if today’s games are cancelled. The forecast calls for showers and a heavy thunderstorm — the worst-case scenario for all.

“I’m looking at the schedule to see where we can get those games in. The key is to get (Wednesday) in. If we can’t, we will have to use two fields,” Zimmerman said. “We would have the Belleville field available, but if Mother Nature bites us tomorrow, we will be on a strict timeline. We have to finish the tournament before the end of the month.”

Zimmerman is confident the games will go on despite the adversity. He has seen it all during his many years involved in Babe Ruth baseball. More important than the games, though, is the safety of the players.

“We’ve always accomplished the mission. The group in Reedsville are great people and we will get the job done. I played Babe Ruth baseball, coached, and I’ve been state commissioner for 21 years,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of these situations and we always get the games in, but the biggest priority is the kid’s safety. I would love to be on the field, but I never want to put a kid out there in a bad situation and he gets injured.

“It takes a lot of work from the community, the organizers, the concession stand people, the scorekeepers, everyone involved does a great job,” Zimmerman continued. “We all do the best we can and, in the end, everything works out for the best.”