CRYSTAL LAKE – The McHenry County Youth Sports Association is trying something new with this year’s Summer International Baseball Championships – free admission.
In the past, the MCYSA charged $5 for adults for each game, or fans could purchase a tournament pass for $25. There also were family packages. The MCYSA board, in an effort to draw more fans to its 10-day event, waived the admission fees.
“We’re hoping folks from the community will just come out and enjoy the games,” MCYSA executive tournament director Jack Sebesta said. “For some people, the admission may have been prohibitive.”
The MCYSA raised the tournament entry fee slightly to offset the loss of gate receipts.
“We hope people will come out and buy a hot dog or a T-shirt or a program,” Sebesta said. “We hope at this point to stick with the plan [in future years].”
The tournaments for 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds provide a major impact for the McHenry County area over the 10 days of the event.
Restaurants and hotels benefit the most, but Sebesta learned through the years that many businesses have their best weeks, outside of Thanksgiving to Christmas, during the tournaments. He said even businesses such as drug stores sell more vitamins, and a truck driver who delivered cupcakes and pastries to service stations and convenience stores told Sebesta his route increased from $6,000 on regular weeks to $9,000 during the tournament.
Rare opportunity: Virmidas Neverasukas, the head coach of Lithuania’s 15U team, will not be with the team Wednesday. Neverauskas is traveling to Jamestown, Pa., to see his son Dovydas pitch for the Class-A Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League.
Dovydas signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization in 2010 and is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA for this season.
“He’s pitching very well,” Neverauskas said. “This is my first time to see him pitch here.”
Neverauskas’ daughter Nomeda Neverauskaite plays second base for the Lithuania 15U team. She will stay and play with the team.
Neverauskas said there only are about 1,000 children playing baseball in his country. Basketball is Lithuania’s national sport.
Sabo remembered: Jim Sabo, the late president of Crystal Lake Babe Ruth, was recognized before Monday night’s feature games in the 15U tournament at Lippold Park. An emotional Sebesta spoke fondly of Sabo as several Sabo family members gathered on the infield.
Sebesta then pointed to the new flagpole at the field, which has Sabo’s name and three 9-foot tall bats.
Schroeder scholars: Recipients for the Justin Schroeder Student-Athlete Achievement Memorial Award were announced Monday night at the tournament. Schroeder, a former Crystal Lake South football player, played in the MCYSA tournament with Crystal Lake Babe Ruth.
Schroeder was a student at Marquette and died after injuries suffered in a car accident in 2003 while returning from the NCAA Final Four. Kevin and Cathy Schroeder established the scholarship foundation in their son’s honor. Almost $52,000 has been awarded to worthy applicants since 2003.
This year’s recipients were Tyler Kendall (Babe Ruth), Dylan Kissack (Lake in the Hills Thunder), Jordan Getzelman (LITH Thunder), John Kaimakis (Babe Ruth), Carissa Polo (volunteer) and Elizabeth Zacher (home stay).
Field trip: About 600 tourney participants or fans attended the second game of Tuesday’s Cubs doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Tuesday was a rain day for the tournaments, but because there were no rainouts in the first three days, there were no games to make up. Bracket play begins today in the 11U and 15U tournaments, while the 13U tournament starts its pool play.