|'You Can Reach There From Here' -- 17 year old Bryce Harper at the 2010 Junior College World Series|
by Harry Cummins
Two of the best baseball weeks you will ever want to experience are unfolding simultaneously right now in the communities of Lewiston, Idaho and Grand Junction, Colorado.
Combining idyllic small town charm with breathtaking Western landscapes, these consummate celebrations of small college baseball happen every year during Memorial Day week. The Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, and the NAIA World Series in Lewiston.
For most of the wide-eyed participants, its the experience of their young lives. For others, like Bryce Harper, it's a way station on the trip to hammering home runs in the big leagues. For the spectators, these 10 team double-elimination tournaments are simply a banquet of baseball delights.
The JUCO World Series in Grand Junction is played at Suplizio Field, under the shadow of the Colorado National Monument. If you are not familiar with the incredible story of the late Sam Suplizio, it is worth looking up. He was as close to the fictitious Moonlight Graham of Field of Dreams as you will find in this life.
Founded in 1957, The NAIA World Series is held at Harris Field on the campus of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. Check out the tournament website this week, or better yet, tune in on-line to KOZE radio in Lewiston to catch the best college baseball announcer you probably don't know about. Brian Danner will give you a words eye view of the action that transports listeners back to the glory days of baseball on the radio.
Of course, these week-long, must see tournaments are best experienced in person. The players are treated like celebrities and you will feel like one too. If you are a baseball devotee and these events are not on your road-trip bucket list, shame on you!!
"When I look back, I can say one of my favorite times I ever had on a baseball field, and one of the greatest years of my life, was playing JUCO" -Bryce Harper