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‘Baseball Dream’ Awaits SoCal Teens in New Mexico

‘Baseball Dream’ Awaits SoCal Teens in New Mexico

Midland, Ohio, Redskins are celebrating after winning the Connie Mack World Series championship over Dallas-based D-BAT United in 2022. (W. Dean Howard/Visualink Graphics)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

7/20/2023

Updated: 7/21/2023

A collection of 24 teenagers, most of them from Orange County, California, are about to live out a baseball dream in Farmington, New Mexico.
The Southern California Renegades are set to open play in the Connie Mack World Series at 1:30 p.m. July 21. The 12-team tournament, held in Farmington since 1965, guarantees each entrant at least five games and offers players the opportunity to feel like big leaguers.
“The Connie Mack World Series is the greatest untold story that’s ever been,” Renegades coach Si Pettrow told The Epoch Times. “This is the greatest secret of baseball.”
Contested at three sites, including 6,100-seat Ricketts Park, the tournament will begin with pool play, continue with bracket action, and culminate with the championship game July 29.
Ricketts Park, the primary Connie Mack World Series venue in Farmington, New Mexico. (W. Dean Howard/Visualink Graphics)

Ricketts Park, the primary Connie Mack World Series venue in Farmington, New Mexico. (W. Dean Howard/Visualink Graphics)

Tournament festivities for the mostly high school-age players begin with a parade and a barbecue, while during games players will see their likenesses on an in-stadium video board and hear personalized walk-up music.
“Everything is totally hosted by the city of Farmington,” Mr. Pettrow said. “The town closes down. Players will be walking down the street and some restaurant [personnel] will run out and buy them dinner, buy them lunch. The kids sign autographs. To the fans, they’re big-leaguers.”
Residents open their homes to house players during the tournament.
“It establishes relationships between the players and local families,” Connie Mack World Series executive committee board member Carol May told The Epoch Times. “The little kids in the home look up to these players. A little 8-year-old that’s just started playing T-ball has a baseball player in his home. He thinks that’s marvelous.”
Host families provide room and board, transportation, laundry services, support at the parade and games, and pretty much anything else that’s needed.
“A lot of these kids stay in touch with their families afterwards,” Ms. May said. “They’ve been invited to their weddings or college graduations. That’s probably the biggest factor in our success. It makes for a family atmosphere.”
The Renegades and Mr. Pettrow, a former high school assistant coach at both Ocean View and Huntington Beach, are making their 11th appearance in Farmington. Once known as Ocean View, the Renegades captured the Connie Mack championship in 2012 and were runners-up in 2013 and 2019.
The Renegades, 42–8 this season, are one of three teams granted automatic World Series berths. The Midland Redskins from Ohio, the defending tournament champion and a perennial Connie Mack power, and Dallas-based D-BAT United are also invited, each because of consistent past success.
Midland, Ohio, Redskins are celebrating after winning the Connie Mack World Series championship over Dallas-based D-BAT United in 2022. (W. Dean Howard/Visualink Graphics)

Midland, Ohio, Redskins are celebrating after winning the Connie Mack World Series championship over Dallas-based D-BAT United in 2022. (W. Dean Howard/Visualink Graphics)

Aside from the host team, the Farmington Panthers, the remainder of this year’s field earned places in the World Series by winning qualifying tournaments. Those clubs include the Colton Nighthawks from Southern California and a second squad from New Mexico, the Albuquerque Baseball Academy. The remaining teams include two more from Texas, the Dallas Tigers and Dullin’s Dodgers, the Oklahoma Express and the Tulsa Sandlot, the NOLA Cardinals from Louisiana and a Canadian entry, the Mississauga, Ontario Tigers.
The Renegades’ roster also includes several players from Los Angeles County, as well as two from Oklahoma, who were added when two others opted out of the World Series trip.
As at any level of baseball, pitching figures to be key, especially with an abundance of games played over a short period of time. Mr. Pettrow is confident in his group.
Among those who figure to play large roles on the mound is right-hander Chad Gurnea, the lone returnee from last year’s World Series team. Gurnea, from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, has committed to Cal State Fullerton. Left-hander Nick Williams of La Serna High in Whittier, meanwhile, is a Long Beach State commit.
Blake Wilson, an infielder from Santa Margarita Catholic High in Rancho Santa Margarita, was a 20th-round selection by the Kansas City Royals in the Major League Baseball draft earlier this month, but might forego signing a pro contract in favor of attending the University of Washington.
Other top position players for the Renegades include Ohio State-bound Zach Fjelstad of Santa Margarita Catholic and fellow infielder Wyatt Hanoian, who will be an incoming senior at Orange Lutheran. Outfielder-first baseman Matthew Thomas of Cypress, meanwhile, is set to attend Cal.
The list of Connie Mack World Series alumni who have gone on to major-league careers is seemingly endless. It includes Manny Machado, Anthony Rizzo, Eric Hosmer, and Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.
“You’re getting to see a lot of future major-league baseball players when they’re just starting their careers,” Ms. May said. “Plus, it’s baseball, and we love baseball. Who doesn’t want to be outside on a summer evening watching baseball?”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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