baseball kid

A player from the Chandler Indians gets ready for action Tuesday night at the Texas Teenage Baseball Association District Tournament at Coleman Park. The tournament brings in more than 1,500 people per night to Athens.

There are many events in Athens that boost the economy and bring in large revenue to area businesses. Among them are the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Assocition and Muscular Dystrophy Association rodeos, The Unlce Fletch Davis “Home of the Hamburger” Cookoff, the YMCA Triathlon and the Fiddlers Reunion.

But one of the best kept secret events is the Texas Teenage Baseball Associations District Tournament going on this week at Coleman Park. With 24 teams competing for a chance to go to state, that’s at least 250 players and coaches alone who’ve come to the city, not to mention parents, grandparents and friends to watch them play.

“We have had about 1,500 people a night at the park,” Athens Teenage Baseball Association President Jim Green said. “It’s been great to see all the people here every night.”

Teams representing the district are from Athens, Mabank, Chandler, Dawson, Mildred, Kemp, Wortham, Eustace, Blooming Grove, Canton, Grand Saline and Van.

With so many people coming to Athens every day, the local economy will reap much of the reward for what is going on at the local diamonds.

“At this tournament, the teams don’t have to stay over- night,” Green said. “They are close enough that they can drive back and forth, but they have to eat somewhere. Many have said they are eating around town before and after their games.”

The State tournament is scheduled to be held July 23-27 and that week there should really be an invasion of baseball players around town.

“This is when there will be a lot of kids in Athens,” he said. They all have to stay here and the local hotels have given us some very good tournament rates, but what we really need is something for these guys to do during the day.”

With all the games at night, Green said he would like to really show off Athens to all the parents and players.

“These kids need something to do during the day and we have things like the Fisheries Center, the bowling alley, skating rink and the East Texas Arboretum,” he said. “We would like to have some days where they can go and have some fun and it not cost them a lot.”

Putting a tournament on of this magnitude takes a lot of work for one organization. The ATBA uses its board of directors and a few other helping hands to make things run smoothly.

Other members of the board include Luke Odenthal, vice president, Michael Neill, treasurer, Brent Mossberger, secretary, Scott McCurlley, Terry Shriver, Allen Stalling, Todd West, Anthony Gideon, Morris Gross, Michael Conley, Roy Glover, Cherry Powell and Angie Fitzgerald.

“This group does all the work,” Green said. “We do have a few other people who handle parking and some other things like some of the concessions, but the board does the bulk of the work. We also get help from TTBA President John Warren and our district president Ronald Sharp.”

The Henderson County Girls Softball Association also hosts a district tournament that was held last week. It also brings in local revenue for the business in the Athens area.

“They do a great job also,” Green said. “I think just more people know about baseball, but they work as hard as we do.

It’s just a great feeling to know people from around the district and state get to see what the city of Athens has to offer.”

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