Emery baseball players visit Cooperstown
Three Emery County boys enjoyed the experience of a lifetime as they traveled this summer to play baseball in the Cooperstown Dreams Park "Tournament of Champions" in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Tyson Roper, Dillon Wilstead and Ridge Nielson traveled with the Utah Bombers to the tournament. The boys have played with the Utah Bombers, a team made up of players from Pleasant Grove and Lehi, for the past few seasons. Dave Hreinson and Darin Livingston coach the team.
More than 100 teams came to New York to play in Cooperstown, the legendary home of baseball. Teams from Hawaii and Alaska were recognized for traveling the farthest. Twenty-two baseball stadiums were scattered throughout the park and each team stayed in a clubhouse at the baseball village, also located on the grounds.
The week long tournament kicked off with an opening ceremony. Parachutes dropped from the sky, the flag was presented and each team was introduced.
A skills competition followed the ceremony. Tyson competed in the Road Runner competition, where competitors were timed to see how quickly they could run the bases. Dillon participated in the King of Swat competition, a home-run derby, where each player was given five swings of the bat. Both boys did well, but did not make it to the final rounds of competition.
Ridge participated with the team in the Around the Horn Plus competition. In this competition, the team is timed as they throw the ball to each base. After the preliminary round, the Bombers had one of the fastest times, qualifying them for the final round. They ended up placing second out of the 102 teams who participated, quite a feat for the Utah team.
For the next few days, the Bombers played multiple games to help place them for the final single elimination championship tournament. They defeated Team Bat-R-Up from Nevada, Colorado's Rocky Mountain Thunder and East Lansing Cardinals. They lost to two Florida teams, Sal Urso's High Performance and Jax Invaders. A third loss came at the hands of Alabama's Viper Baseball Academy.
Going into the single elimination tournament with a 3-3 record, they were ranked 45 out of 102 teams. They won their first game against Jax Beach Barracudas from Florida, 10-9. A loss to the Tampa Tarpons ended their bid for a championship.
Along with playing talented teams from across the nation, the boys had a chance to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum contains three floors of memorabilia and exhibits that honor baseball's finest players, both past and present.
They were able to walk through the Babe Ruth room and see the bat Babe Ruth used to hit his record-breaking 60th homerun, as well as the ball. It was a thrill to see Roberto Clemente's jersey, Willie Mays' glove, a baseball from the first World Series and the rare Honus Wagner baseball card.
The Negro Leagues exhibit showed the threatening letters the African American players received for playing baseball. The boys also saw a case of World Series championship rings and a plaque gallery of all the members who have been inducted.
To pass time between games, the boys traded collectible pins with players from other teams.
The highlight of the week was the Bombers induction into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame. As part of the induction, each of the boys received a Hall of Fame championship ring. Their team will now become a part of history in the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame museum.
The boys would like to thank all those who helped them reach Cooperstown, N.Y.