District tourneys a thing of the past

LEWISTOWN — In 2017, the local Babe Ruth district was disbanded and taken into District 8.

That started a trend as now there will be no district play in Babe Ruth baseball in Pennsylvania.

“There were only two districts in the state playing last year,” said Jim Winder, the former District 8 Commissioner, “and they also were basically the only two areas participating in the state tournament.”

Winder — who is from Williamsport and is now an assistant state commissioner — noted that there are 46 Babe Ruth Leagues in Pennsylvania, but only 19 participated in the postseason. Of those 19, only five put all three age groups (13, 14 and 15) into tournament play, West End, Williamsport, Broomall-Newtown, Drexel Hill (Delaware County), Altoona and Mifflin County.

The state also announced the sites of the three state tournaments, 15-year-olds will play in Broomall, the 14-year-olds will play in Centre County and the 13-year-olds will play in Altoona.

Last summer, Mifflin County did not do very well in District 8 competition as it went 4-5, but in the state tournament Mifflin County won the 13-year-old state title, finished second in the 15-year-olds and was tied for third in the 14-year-olds. Mifflin County was the only league to place all three teams into the state’s final four.

Just playing the state tournament has been a trend throughout the country for Babe Ruth baseball and in fact Pennsylvania was the last state in the Mid-Atlantic Region to go in that direction.

With the end of district play Mifflin County now holds two state records in that department.

Mifflin County has won the most district titles with 88.5. In 1957, Mifflin County won a district title (13-15-year-olds) in District 5 and in 2018 won a District 8 title (15-year-olds). All the other district titles came in District 7. In 2014, Mifflin County and Perry County ended in a tie in the 14-year-old bracket.

The other record, Mifflin County holds is that it won 34 district titles in a row from 2001-2012. Mifflin County won the last one contested in 2001, 13-year-olds and then swept District 7 from 2002 until 2012. The streak was stopped by Altoona in 2013 in the first district (13-year-olds) played that summer.

Also longtime time state commissioner Ron Zimmerman of Hazleton stepped down at the end of the 2019 season. He will be replaced by Paul Exley of Royersford.