LEVELLAND, TX (KCBD) – Young baseball players from across the country are in Levelland and they may have a hard time getting to sleep Wednesday night. That's because Thursday morning they will start play in the 2010 Babe Ruth World Series 13-year-old league.
Ten teams from the east coast to the west coast and in between landed in Lubbock Wednesday. While it is a great opportunity for the nearly 200 players and a big honor for Levelland it is also a grand slam for the South Plains' economy. Thousands of fans are expected to spend millions of dollars during nine day event.
"Very few towns especially of this size can say we have a world anything in their community," said Levelland Mayor Bo Bowman.
The town of 12,000 is rolling out of the red carpet for the first 13-year-old World Series ever held in the state of Texas.
"It's a great opportunity for our kids," said Manuel Olloque who coaches the team from Torrance, California. "I think this is the first time they have been away from mom and dad."
During the tournament, the players who are not on the Plainview or Levelland teams stay with a host family. Forty-six families in Levelland volunteered to host eight teams worth of players.
"I've never experienced anything like this or been in a sport that took me out of the state or even region. It's a brand new experience and I'm having fun," said right fielder Alex who plays for Torrance.
"We really know what name Levelland means. As far as hospitality these are a bunch of great folks," said Torrance Manager Tim San Augustine.
No doubt the week will be all about baseball but these boys who have traveled thousands of miles will take something else away with them. "They'll make new, life-long friends. They will keep up with these kids forever," said Greg McKay, Levelland baseball league president.
Organizers have poured thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours into making this tournament a success. Restaurants are packed and hotels in Levelland are at max capacity. Local business owner Ashley Rust printed 8,000 flyers hoping fans will stop by her new store.
"Just so they know they get 15% off and know I'm here because I'm a new store. I've only been open since July 10th," said Rust who owns A&A This & That on the town square. She had her best day on the books Tuesday, the day the teams arrived.
"The world series projects maybe $1 to $2 or $3 million to the local economy both ours and Lubbock," said McKay.
"It puts money in our community and money in our shops and fills our hotels," said Mayor Bowman who is confident this will be the best World Series ever.
The crack of the bat brings cash, comradery and more to this South Plains' town. Levelland students will be bat boys and diamond dolls for the teams.
The tournament lasts nine days, and the first pitch is thrown Thursday. If you want to catch a game, click here to see the schedule.
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