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Ballparks of America hosts 24 teams for Cal Ripken World Series Tournament in Branson, Mo.

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Twenty teams from across the country and four international teams traveled to Branson for the Babe Ruth League’s Cal Ripken World Series Tournament. It lasts through August 14.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cal Ripken Tournament was cancelled in 2020. Parents, coaches and players said they’re grateful to be there this year. Safety is a top priority.

“We didn’t know if we were even going to have a tournament and let alone coming to the world series that is a huge win in itself and we’re super proud of that,” Hawaii coach Kaulana Park said.

Coach Park said around 80% of the players and coaches on his team are fully vaccinated.

”But, again we’re still taking the necessary precautions of the masks and social distancing as well,” Park said.

Park said at a competitive tournament like this winning is nice, but it’s not everything.

”The win is really the fellowship and the friends that you can make of the different states and the different countries that are here,” said Park.

Sue-Ann Leong, a parent from the Aruba team, said they all needed a negative COVID-19 test to get here.

”It’s scary until the last moment, cause you might pay for everything and then have COVID so it was very scary, but thank God everybody was negative, so we’re here and very healthy ready to play ball,” Sue-Ann Leong said.

Leong said she is very proud of the players for making it this far.

”It looks like an amazing experience they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Leong said.

New Jersey player Nattel Pandofina said he is excited about winning this week. Other players said it’s the chance to bond with other teams that makes this experience so rewarding.

”Meeting other teams, the international teams, and hanging out in Branson,” Missouri player AJ Robbins said.

Ballparks of America General Manager Scott Bailes said this tournament is the highlight of the summer.

”Cal Ripken and the World Series people do a huge show. These games will be televised, the kids get to play on television,” Scott Bailes said.

Bailes said next summer they hope to have all the international teams back.

”We hope it’s a memory that will last a lifetime,” Bailes said.

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