Easley officials are ready for another chance to spotlight the city as it hosts the Big League Baseball World Series for another year.
Teams began arriving in the Upstate Monday, ready for eight great days of baseball, which kicks off Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve got 11 teams coming in – the host team and 10 from all around the world, including Canada, Venezuela, Italy, and Puerto Rico,” said Councilman Chris Mann.
Mayor Larry Bagwell said everything looks “real good” at the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex, the center of the tournament action.
The city’s new batting cages are ready for use by the BLWS players.
“It allows teams to have indoor batting practice,” Bagwell said. “It’s really something nice.”
Bagwell said the hard work of all the volunteers who make the tournament possible each reflects well on the city and proves that Easley and the Big League Baseball World Series make a good fit.
More than 250 volunteers work to make each year better than the year before.
“I think if you talk with Stephen Keener, president of Big League World Series, he’s real impressed with the number of people that volunteer their time,” Bagwell said. “He says he’s never seen anything like this before. “
The series is well served by the city’s recreation facilities, which are “second to none, as far as we’re concerned. ” Bagwell said.
The spacious Complex allows people to enjoy the games without feeling hemmed in – and also enjoy meeting some of the thousands who come to the tournament each year.
“You can walk around and enjoy the games as well as enjoy meeting the people,” Bagwell said.
“And they get to see some pretty good baseball, don’t forget that,” he said. “ Plus bringing those international teams in, I think, it’s icing on the cake.”
The series does a lot for the city, Bagwell said.
Economically, the series brings in about $300,000 to Easley and the surrounding area annually, he said.
“It allows us to stretch our shoulders back a little, show a little pride,” Bagwell said.
“It allows us to be thought of all over the world, a little town of 20,000 people and we’re going to be on ESPN. It’s going to be beamed all over the world. It’s a big thing.”
The mayor said he always enjoys the championship game.
“I hope we’re in it. Easley and the team from Greenville have won their share of them,” Bagwell said. “I’ve been very happy about that.”
He said he was sorry that Greenville didn’t make it to the tournament this year
“At the same time, that will give us a little more breathing room, so to speak,” Bagwell said. “I’m looking forward to the games. It’s going to be a good series.”