“If you build it, they will come,” may seem like a catchy phrase for a fantasy-filled movie, but it hardly seems the reasonable, logical thoughts of adults who realize that the national Little League organization only sponsors eight tournaments that carry the “world series” title — four in baseball, and four in softball.
Of those four baseball tournament, one — the Little League World Series — is firmly entrenched in Williamsport, Penn. So the odds of a small town like Easley, South Carolina, impressing Little League officials enough to consider moving one of its tournaments here seemed far-fetched to say the least.
But Easley did built it — “it” being the J.B. “Red” Owens Recreation Complex. Naming the facility after a man who had dedicated much of his life to youth sports in Easley only seemed to enhance the fields’ reputation. And they did come.
The first year that the Big League World Series came to Easley, Little League President Stephen Keener shared his thought on why Easley was perfect for the event. Easley, Keener said, was big enough to handle the event, but small enough to care about the event.
Larger cities had too much competing with the BLWS for attention. Professional and college sports teams overshadow youth baseball leagues.
And larger stadiums gave Little League ball games a bad public image. A crowd of 5,000 in a large, professional-size stadium would look like an empty building. However 5,000 people at the Owens Complex looks like an overflow crowd, which just adds to the excitement of the event.
But there has to be more that keeps the Big League World Series in our town. Other towns have mimicked our recreation plan, some even producing more impressive facilities than those available at the Owens Complex. Yet the BLWS continues to call Easley home.
Nobody can officially say so, but we hear that the series belongs to Easley as long as the city wants it.
The difference, of course, is the large number of volunteers who work together to make the BLWS a success each year.
It takes a special breed of volunteers to work together to produce such an event. And the BLWS volunteers not only work hard, they make every visitor to the Owens Complex feel welcome.
Our hat goes off to Jon Humphrey, who leads the BLWS efforts each year. Our volunteers simply follow Humphrey’s example.