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Babe Ruth ball players, community feast at Kiana Lodge | World Series
SUQUAMISH — To say Kiana Lodge was packed with guests Tuesday night may be an understatement.
Baseball players from 10 teams from around the country, their families, and Kitsap community members filled the tables on the lodge's lawn. The banquet was the final chapter in Tuesday's celebration of the 13-year-old Babe Ruth League World Series.
An estimate by World Series Co-Host President Russell Barker put the total at approximately 600 attendees.
World Series executive board member Dan Weedin was the master of ceremonies. Speakers and guests that he and co-host presidents Barker and Brent Stenman introduced included: Gord Welbourne, tournament director; Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson; Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman; and county commissioners Robert Gelder and Charlotte Garrido.
Barker and Stenman presented gifts to the Suquamish Tribe and the mayor for their dedication to the tournament; the tribe received World Series memorabilia, and the mayor received a plaque.
Erickson recognized the players and their hard work. "We're all proud of you," she said.
Gelder had some words of advice, as the weather is expected to reach into the 90s.
"Drink plenty of water," he said. "We're going to be turning the heat up a little."
And Jim Lefebvre, former Mariners manager and 1965 Rookie of the Year, made his guest speaker debut in Kitsap.
Prior to his arrival for the world series, Lefebvre had never stepped foot in Kitsap. His view on the location of the 13-year-old tournament was clear: "God put a hand on this whole community," he said.
The tournament began at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Kitsap Fairgrounds.
Lefebvre, who travels as an ambassador for Major League Baseball, stressed to the players about to take the field the most important thing right now is to have fun. Concerns about travel teams and showcases should not be the young men's priorities at this time, he said.
"The most important thing is to let these kids play and have fun," Lefebvre said to the parents in the crowd.
While all this was going on, the people working behind the scenes feeding and cleaning up after hundreds of people bustled around. The delicious salmon smell, well, Kiana Lodge Director and Suquamish Council member Jay Mills can speak to that.
The man behind the sockeye
Jay Mills has baked salmon for about 40 years.
His great-grandmother, in her 90s at the time, taught Mills traditional methods of baking the fish.
Past the lawn at Kiana Lodge close to the beach, Mills could be seen tending to filleted Sockeye salmon, baking near an open fire. The salmon, wedged between ironwood sticks, glistened in the evening light.
The salmon fit into a split in the wood. Smaller sticks are then woven behind the salmon over and under the salmon to hold the fish flat and cook it evenly.
But the traditional baking method is just as much, if not more, about how the fish is filleted than cooked.
Mills cuts the salmon from the tail, butterflying the meat while keeping the cut intact. Everything, bones and all, comes out prior to being leaned next to the fire.
"It's just something you're taught," he said.
However, baking all the salmon in the traditional method for so many people Tuesday night would have been difficult. Mills did bake some on racks on a fire inside.