THUNDER BAY - Like so many other great baseball players, a group of young local baseball players are looking for the chance to make it to Cooperstown, N.Y.
In the same town where the National Baseball Hall of Fame resides, it’s also the sight of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 12U Thunder Bay Lakers baseball club.
For the next few months, they will be fundraising to secure a spot in a tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park in 2020.
The tournament features teams from across the United States, a Little League World Series-type atmosphere, and exposure to fans from across the globe.
Kevin McCallum, manager of the ball club, said it would be a dream come true for his team.
“Some of the parents think I’m crazy trying to take these kids to New York, but we have a really good group of kids this year.”
The 12U Lakers are a competitive travel team that attends tournaments mostly in Minnesota. During the Ontario Major Little League season, their pool of players is cut in half as players join either the Port Arthur Nationals or Westfort Internationals, to compete for a spot in the provincial championship.
“We’ve been struggling at the provincials every year,” McCallum said.
He hopes the Cooperstown tournament will give Thunder Bay a chance to showcase their top talent on the biggest stage.
“It’s a big undertaking. There’s about 200 teams that apply every year,” he said.
The Lakers would get eight guaranteed Round Robin games, and a number of playoff games if they qualify.
“We’ve put our application in, and we’ve talked to the tournament organizers. They’re excited to have a team from Northwestern Ontario. It’s something they want to bring to their tournament to diversify the teams that get in,” McCallum said.
The only thing left remaining is the $15-to-20,000 price tag.
The team will host trivia nights and fundraisers throughout the winter months to try and alleviate the cost for parents.
McCallum says the kids, however, are too excited to look back at this point.
“They won’t stop talking about going,” he said.
Third baseman Sean “Sunshine” Fedun couldn’t get over how cool a LLWS-type atmosphere would be.
“I think it’s going to be very fancy, kind of like when you watch an MLB game. The field is going to be very toned and everything will be very fancy.”
Those looking to help contribute to the trip can contact the team manager at email@example.com.