NK Babe Ruth club keeps its eye on 2012 World Series

POULSBO — Baseball fans in Kitsap County had their eyes on Poulsbo Tuesday night.

As part of a bid to host a 2012 Babe Ruth League World Series, the North Kitsap Babe Ruth baseball club welcomed Robert Faherty, national commissioner of Babe Ruth League Inc., to a gathering at The Zone Sportsplex in Poulsbo. Faherty visited Kitsap County to assess the area as a possible national championship site for Babe Ruth League’s 13-year-old age group.

The gathering in Poulsbo, organized by NK Babe Ruth tournament directors Brent Stenman and Russ Barker, was meant to show Faherty that the local community is interested in hosting the series.

“The last thing I wanted to see tonight was people in attendance that wanted to see this event, and I’ve seen that today,” Faherty said. “I am sure that more than two people want this event now.”

Stenman estimated between 75 and 80 people attended the meeting.

“It’s tough getting people out for something theoretical,” Stenman said. “But this turnout was great.”

Local community leaders, including Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, North End County Commissioner Josh Brown, State Rep. Christine Rolfes and Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman attended the gathering, along with a mishmash of coaches, fans and young baseball players.

“All of your presence here tonight is greatly appreciated and noted,” Faherty said. “It’s always great to see a bunch of smiling baseball players in the crowd.”

About 100 people have volunteered to help organize the tournament by hosting players, working at concession stands and ticket booths, and preparing ball fields for play. Faherty said a successful tournament would require the help of 250 to 300 volunteers.

“It is up to the people in this room to go out and tell other people ... to the point that it’s such a groundswell that it can’t be stopped,” Faherty said.

Faherty added that, in addition to seeing volunteers who are willing to help, he needs to know that the tournament will be well-attended by local baseball fans.

“We are relying very heavily on this community coming out and seeing a unique event,” he said.

Games for the 10-team tournament would be played at the Gene Lobe Fields at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton. Faherty inspected the fields as part of his visit Tuesday.

“I was prepared to see something and say, ‘You need to improve this,’” Faherty said. “... I didn’t see any glaring negatives today.”

North Kitsap Babe Ruth hosted a regional championship for 18-year-old teams at the Fairgrounds in 2008 as one of the first steps toward making a World Series bid. The League’s regional commissioner was impressed with the Fairgrounds facilities, and recommended Stenman and Barker try for the World Series. Barker then attended a training seminar for World Series hosts in Jamestown, N.Y., and soon after, Faherty told him the 2012 series was available.

Faherty will return to the League’s headquarters in Trenton, N.J., and submit a report about Kitsap County to his colleagues as the next step in the bid process. Organizers should know by this summer if Kitsap County is chosen as the 2012 series host.

In the meantime, baseball fans like Alan Orr, whose son, Danny, plays for NK Babe Ruth and Kingston High School, will be watching and encouraging others to get involved.

“This would be an awesome thing for this community,” Orr said.

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