59th season of MC Babe Ruth under way this weekend

LEWISTOWN – Ten years ago, in 2003, the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League had one of its most exciting pennant races in the history of the league.

The circuit had four strong teams: Lewistown (23-5), McVeytown (22-5), Milroy (19-8) and Yeagertown (24-4).

The league ended in a tie and Yeagertown beat the West in a playoff game at Armagh Memorial Field, which drew one of the biggest crowds for any Babe Ruth game ever played there.

How strong was the Mifflin County League? The three All-Star teams went on to sweep the state. Since 1998, when Babe Ruth went to a three tier All-Star bracket, Mifflin County is the only league ever to accomplish that feat.

Today, the Mifflin County league opens its 59th season of Babe Ruth baseball with five games. Each team will play a 27-game schedule and the winner of the regular season will wear the 2013 crown.

One game starts at 3 p.m. as Milroy goes to McVeytown. At 4 p.m. Burnham visits Strodes Mills and Yeagertown visits Reedsville. Then at 5 p.m., Belleville travels to Beaver Springs and Belltown hosts Lewistown.

One thing is similar to 2003 – the top two teams should be Lewistown and Yeagertown. The West has won the last five championships in a row and is on dynasty run.

Other teams that should finish in the first division are Beaver Springs, Milroy and Strodes Mills. Teams in the second half of the league include McVeytown, Belltown, Burnham, Belleville and Reedsville.

As usual there was very little turnover when it comes to managerial positions. The only rookie coach in the league is in Belltown as Mike Hostetler takes over for Butch Bender, a 15-year veteran, who coached Belltown and Burnham.

The dean of all the managers is still Belleville’s Bill Corbin, who is in his 31st year. Corbin has an overall record of 578-301. Meanwhile at Yeagertown, Fred Zook is starting his 26th year with a mark of 476-296.

Reedsville’s Scott Reigle is next as he starts his 16th year and has an overall record of 337-160. Bernie Howard of the West is right behind Reigle in seniority, as he enters his 14th year with an overall mark of 361-89.

Beaver Springs’ Scott Wright is next in line (eight years) and an overall record of 106-65. Milroy’s Ted Rhoades is begining his sixth year (45-88).

Burnham’s Tom Heller (22-40) and Strodes Mills’ Butch Larson (25-56) are starting their fourth seasons in their respective dugouts. McVeytown’s Justin Yoder (7-21) is just opening his second year with the most western team in the league.

Corbin needs just one win in to become the first manager to win 500 games in the regular season. Corbin’s Belleville record is 499-274.

A good run by Zook’s Yeagertown team could give the veteran manager some milestone achievements. Zook’s Yeagertown record is 380-259 and needs just 20 wins to become just the third manger to win at least 400 games in the regular season and he needs 24 wins to become the third manager to win at least 500 games overall. Howard needs just 12 victories to get to the 300 mark in the regular season.

Howard’s team (Lewistown) needs just five more wins to clinch its 300th victory since entering the league in 1999.