The Minnesota Amateur Baseball Tournament has been played in various locations around the state since 1924. The Class A tournament for teams within the 694-494 corridor is conducted in the Twin Cities. The baseball is good and the crowds are modest.
What has long been referred to as "town ball'' is played in Class B and Class C. There's a formula for assigning the B and C labels that I can't figure out. What has been discovered is that the Class C teams on average bring more fans and buy more beer when their town is represented in the state tournament.
Thus, to improve the financial situation with the tournament, the state baseball board made a change a couple of years ago: The board increased the Class C field by 16 teams to 48, and cut the Class B field in half -- to eight teams, with a double-elimination format.
There are now four "super sections'' with four teams apiece for Class B that are held on the same weekend that the single-elimination Class C tournament gets underway.
Class C starts this weekend in the official host towns of Maple Lake and Delano. There will be two games at Irish Stadium in Maple Lake and two at Minicipal Stadium in Delano starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. There will be three at each site starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and three more at each site starting at noon Sunday.
The 16 winners advance to meet the 16 Class C teams that received a first-round bye, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23.
The Class C teams receiving byes for their play in the regionals earlier this month are Howard Lake, Morris, Belle Plaine, Cannon Falls, New Market, Moorhead, Waseca, Lake Henry, Plato, Bertha, Luverne, Watkins, Sobieski, Sartell, Lamberton and Fergus Falls.
There will be 16 Class C games over the weekend of Aug. 23-25, and 16 survivors for the tournament wrapup that takes place from Saturday, Aug. 31 to Labor Day on Sept. 2. The Class C title game will be played at noon on Labor Day in Maple Lake.
The Class B "Super Sections'' are double-elimination and being played this Friday and Saturday, with two teams advancing to the state tournament from each section. The lineup of teams goes like this:
VICTORIA: Coon Rapids, Victoria, St. Michael and Sauk Rapids. MOORHEAD: Moorhead, Isanti, Shakopee and Champlin. MARSHALL: Cold Spring, Mankato, Savage and Red Wing. AUSTIN: Austin Grey, Eagan, Dundas and Duluth.
The eight teams that advance in Class B will play in Howard Lake -- the third "host city'' for the state tournament -- and play four games there on Saturday, Aug., 24. The Class B tournament will wind up with a 3 p.m. game in Delano on Labor Day, with the possibility of a second, deciding game to follow.
Full schedules for the Class C and Class B tournaments can be found at minnesotabaseball.org.
I make it to one day of the state tournament more years than not. And there's usually a surprise to be found at the concession stands -- such as the smoked chops in Gaylord a few years back.
If you enjoy quaint, without the traffic problems and crowds of Great Minnesota Get Together, I highly recommend the town-ball tournament.