The 2013 Kansas Cal Ripken 10-year-old state tournament took place July 12-15 at the Orlis Cox Complex, 106 Beech St., Ottawa, but because the Ottawa Babe Ruth League disbanded in May, the city might not get another such hosting opportunity in the foreseeable future.
“You have to be a registered charter with the Babe Ruth League in the state of Kansas to submit a bid [to host a tournament],” Tim Hough, tournament director, said. “Right now there is no league in Ottawa. Thee has been talk of reforming, but nothing has happened yet.”
Ottawa’s league still was registered with the state when it was selected last fall to play host to the recent Cal Ripken tournament, Hough said, so Kansas Babe Ruth League agreed to continue to run the tournament even after local organization had disbanded.
The reason for the league disbanding was “lack of volunteers and public support, declining player numbers due to other baseball playing options, and stringent rules,” Hough said in May.
Tim Hough and his wife, Carrie, both were originally on the Ottawa Babe Ruth League board, which had been a 43-year-old tradition in Ottawa. Tim Hough was the secretary, and Carrie Hough was the treasurer. In December, both volunteered as the tournament directors for the Cal Ripken tournament. After the group disbanded, the Ottawa Recreation Commission helped organize the tournament by handling on-field jobs and game-time preparations, Hough said.
“We worked closely with [ORC],” Hough said. “It was a great joint effort. These state tournaments are also governed by the Kansas Babe Ruth League, so we had a state commissioner as the head tournament official.”
Eight teams competed in the tournament, including two local teams from Appanoose and Paola. Hough said there also were teams as far as Liberal and the Cimarron River Valley in the tournament.
Ages for the baseball league run from 13-18 and Babe Ruth Softball runs from 4-18, according to the Babe Ruth League website. The Cal Ripken Division is a division of the Babe Ruth League specifically for ages 4-12. The kids play at local district level before moving on to the state tournament, followed by a 8-12 state regional and then the World Series, Hough said.
Hough said July’s events were not the first time Ottawa has played host to a large tournament.
“In 2011, Ottawa hosted the Babe Ruth Classic,” Hough said. “The best 13- to 15-year-old players in the state of Kansas split into two teams and played each other. It was a pretty big deal.”
Though the Ottawa league is no more, Hough said he would be the tournament director again in a heartbeat.
“Seeing the faces of the kids made it all worth it,” Hough said. “For some of these kids it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”