Tournaments Under Way in Statesboro

Have you seen lots of bats and balls and kids in uniform this week? You will. Statesboro's rolling out the red carpet for not one, but four national baseball tournaments. But it's bigger than the baseball. Playing host to these events could make the 'Boro a baseball destination.

After three years in the World Series tournament, Clair Kulczyk of Austin, Texas, knows her baseball. She also knows baseball parks. She's been pleased so far with Mill Creek Park and Statesboro.

"I've been very impressed, people have been friendly and the park is beautiful," she said. "So we've been happy."

With one exception. "We don't like the gnats. Can you get rid of them?" she asked.

Her team is one of 40 or so competing in the US Specialty Sports Association's four national tournaments. To get there, each team played in a host of tournaments across its region.

"This is a great place for a World Series," said "Mouse" Valenti of Chicago. "We were in one in Michigan and I would say this is way nicer."

If all goes well this week, the series could make Statesboro its long-term home. "This showcases our community," said Ronald Smith of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks & Recreation Department. "Our community benefits from people coming in and staying in our town."

Staying, shopping and eating more than ball park hotdogs. "An average family of four or five, it takes seven or eight dollars apiece to eat," said Ronald Escamilla from Corpus Christi, Texas. "Three meals, that's almost $100 a day and we're here seven days. That's $700 in food per family and we have 12 families on our team."

For many of the baseball families, this is the only vacation they'll take this year. Tournament leaders hope this week starts a successful tradition for summers to come.

Because of the tournament structure, all the teams in the four age group tournaments will be playing at least until Thursday, when eliminations begin.

This tournament has filled hotels in Statesboro, Claxton, and Metter. Some are even staying on the Georgia Southern campus.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,