Posted in 2007
"If You Build It...
The Grand Junction Alpine Bank Junior College World Series celebrated its 50th anniversary with the final game between Chipola Florida College and New Mexico Junior College. Chipola was the first team to qualify for the tournament and it was also the team's first visit to Grand Junction. New Mexico Junior College was ranked the number one team in the polls. In 2005, it was the first trip to JUCO by this team from Hobbs; it was the first time in the history of the state that a team was represented from New Mexico; AND it was the first national baseball title for Coach Ray Birmingham's team.
There were 9,593 fans in the stands to cheer on their favorite team. Suplizio Field is a special place for me. When theHansMan picked me up at the airport for my first visit to Grand Junction thirteen years ago,(our first real date) we headed straight to Suplizio Field to watch baseball. The field is named for Sam Suplizio, Mr. Baseball, who passed away December 29, 2006.
A total of 127,688 fans enjoyed watching the talents of these young men over the course of eight days. That attendance surpassed the previous record attendance of 126,455 set in 2000.
JUCO is a place where you can sit down by a total stranger, and by the seventh inning stretch, you are swaying and singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with that person as if you had known him for years. For instance, before the first swing of the bat, you learn that the gentleman sitting next to you (see Mr. Scott's picture to the right) has a grandson who wears #2 and is a pitcher for one of the teams... or that one young man had dedicated his performance to his terminally ill mother who is fighting ovarian cancer...or that one of the coaches always tells his team a joke just before they take the field...
JUCO is a place where teenagers are signing autographs possibly for the first time in their lives...and probably not for the last time. Kirby Puckett still holds a batting record of .688 when he played for Triton in 1982. Those young men who toss those batting gloves and other memorabilia to the wildly waving, out-stretched hands of local youngsters, may never know the positive impact made on those young lives.
But there is more to watch than just a baseball game. To insure having that very special seat in 'the third-base' stands, theHansMan and I arrive about 90 minutes before the games. This allows ample time for wandering under the bleachers to watch the antics of a younger generation, (did those youngs girls leave the house looking like that or did they remove some of their clothing and add all that make-up after they left the house?), or to get my minimun daily requirement of grease in one brat with sauerkraut, or to get a general feel for the camraderie among the players for both teams as they go through their traditional warm-up exercises. Since there is a saying, "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words," here are a few photos that could have been taken at any baseball game, at any ball field, in any city in the United States...but, they were taken at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Saturday, June 2, 2007.
Remember the young man I mentioned earlier who dedicated his perfomance to his mom ? That young man, Drew Parker, earned the Preston Walker Most Valuable Player award after his Indians defeated the opposing team 7-3. He picked up his second victory of the series Saturday afternoon after throwing 6 1/2 innings in a 27-12 victory over Spartanburg, South Carolina Methodist College that clinched the Indian's berth to the national final. He struck out 14 batters in a total of 16 1/2 innings at the series and also earned saves in key victories over Spartanburg and San Jacinto, Texas College-North as his team won the national title in its first trip to the JUCO World Series.
The final score was, as mentioned above, 7-3. Have I mentioned who won? By now, you may have already figured that out, but I haven't intentionally named the champion. Why? Because both of those teams were winners. In fact, every team who made it to Grand Junction, Colorado, for the JUCO World Series were ALL winners.
For those who have visited this blog today for the first time, and were at any of these games, may you have experienced Mountains, Mesas, Monuments, and Memories...There will be more opportunities to experience Mountains, Mesas, Monuments...and make more Memories because Wayne Baker, the National Junior College Executive Director, signed an agreement that will keep the World Series in the Grand Valley for the next ten years. All of us in Grand Junction look forward to welcoming you back next year.
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"It is a culmination of a great week," JUCO Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton said.
Click the LINKS :
More links with stories and photos about JUCO in Grand Junction:
2011 Teams Qualifying as of this minute:
(These are links taking you the teams' home pages.)
Southern Union AL Bisons (41-18)
Chipola FL Indians (39-20) (See story above)
Grayson County TX Vikings (42-15)
Seward County KS Saints (44-18)
Potomac State WV Catamounts (35-10)
Jefferson MO College (43-20)
South Georgia College (33-31)
Iowa Western Community College (40-18)
Alpine Bank JUCO Schedule:
Saturday, May 28
Game 1: Potomac State (W.Va.) College (35-10) vs. Jefferson (Mo.) College (43-20), 9 a.m.
Game 2: South Georgia College (33-31) vs. Central Arizona College (52-13), noon
Game 3: Southern Union State (Ala.) College (41-18) vs. Navarro (Texas) College (42-17), 3 p.m.
Game 4: Seward County (Kan.) Community College (44-18) vs. Iowa Western Community College (40-18), 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 29
Game 5: Missouri vs. Georgia, 10 a.m. (Loser's Bracket) Missouri OUT
Game 6: Alabama vs. Kansas , 2 p.m. (Loser's Bracket) Alabama OUT
Game 7: Chipola (Fla.) College (39-20) vs. Grayson County (Texas) College (42-15), 7:30 p.m.
Florida defeats Texas
Monday, May 30
Potomac WV vs. Arizona (AZ wins)
Navarro TX vs. Western Iowa (TX wins)
Georgia vs. Seward KS (KS wins) Georgia OUT
Tuesday, May 31
Navarro TX vs Chipola FL
Seward KS vs. Potomac WV Seward, KS OUT
Grayson TX vs. Western Iowa (Losers Bracket) Grayson TX OUT
Wednesday, June 1
Arizona vs.Navarro TX game at 7:30 p.m.
Iowa Western vs. Chipola, FL game at 3:00 p.m. Chipola FL OUT
Thursday, June 2
Iowa Western vs. Navarro Texas 3:00 p.m. IOWA OUT
Potomac WV vs Central Arizona 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 3 Game 18 7:30 p.m.
Potomac WV vs. Central Arizona
Saturday, June 4 Game 19 7:30 p.m.
Navarro TX vs. Central AZ
For one week every year since 1959, junior college baseball is celebrated in Grand Junction, Colorado. From around the country, 10 teams vie for the NJCAA Division I national championship, and thousands of fans fill Sam Suplizio Field to cheer their favorite teams. The JUCO World Series is a proving ground for future Major League Baseball stars. Past greats such as Kirby Puckett and Curt Schilling and current big-leaguers Travis Hafner, Cliff Lee, Adam LaRoche, John Lackey and rookie Brandon Belt have made a stop in Grand Junction, as well as the No. 1 draft pick of 2010, Bryce Harper.
The Junior College World Series was first played in 1958 in Oklahoma. A contingent from Grand Junction, headed by Jay Tolman, then the dean of men at Mesa Junior College, and baseball coach Bus Bergman, made a successful bid to move the tournament to Grand Junction. The first tournament turned a modest profit, and ever since, Grand Junction has become synonymous with junior college baseball. Paris (Texas) Junior College won the first title in Grand Junction, the first of 17 national championships for Texas schools, led by San Jacinto College-North, which has won a record five crowns. JUCO has grown every year since, with more than 120,000 fans annually filling the stands.
Games are now streamed live on the Internet, allowing fans everywhere, including those stationed overseas in the military, to watch their sons, brothers, nephews and grandsons compete. The JUCO World Series is a special week every year that creates memories for a lifetime.