Don Mattingly World Series
Anyone who knows about the Jack Cust Baseball Academy (JCBA) knows that the staff there
have revolutionized youth baseball in the Garden State since its inception six years ago. Besides giving local teams a state-of-the-art facility to train for and play the best game on earth, JCBA provides a climate- controlled environment in which to play baseball year-round, sponsors tournaments that bring the most talented young ball players to the same field at the same time, attracts college and major league scouts from throughout the eastern seaboard, and has given rise to the unprecedented New Jersey Super-17 Program. Think that’s enough for Jack Cust and his staff?
Taking a page from well-known, national tournaments sponsored by Little League, Babe Ruth League, Connie Mack, and American Legion, among others, the Hunterdon County based academy “For the Serious Player” will host the Don Mattingly 17 & Under World Series this August in cooperation with the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC).
Keith Dilgard, JCBA General Manager, asserts that “The AABC is the largest amateur baseball organization in the United States conducting numerous national tournaments at various age groups. The Jack Cust Baseball Academy is honored to be the host of the first ever Don Mattingly 17 & Under World Series.” Eight teams in all – one from the JCBA’s New Jersey Super-17 Program – will compete for the Don Mattingly WS championship this August. The Don Mattingly World Series is a division of the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC).
The AABC comprises approximately 10,000 amateur teams, with 150,000 amateur players, and boasts an impressive list of alumni including major league greats and Hall of Famers Cal Ripken,Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ivan Rodriguez, Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Jr., Ozzie Smith, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Don Mattingly.
JCBA won the bid to host the 17 & Under World Series from the AABC. The Flemington location makes a logical choice because the academy provides the necessary facilities for a tournament of this magnitude and Hunterdon County has the array of services and business establishments needed to accommodate the influx of people who attend such sporting events.
Dilgard expressed excitement for JCBA’s choice to host this first time ever event. He expects that college and professional scouts, who are already accustomed to attending games at JCBA, will appear in great number. More than 100 scouts attended events during the inaugural season of the Super 17 last summer.
Clearly, the presence of as prestigious a baseball event as the Don Mattingly World Series will help place the Garden State on more of an equal footing with warm weather states from Florida to California. As Dilgard explains, one of the benefits to New Jersey Baseball will include making our state a more appealing place for teams from around the country to come to play because of the “great baseball atmosphere” that JCBA offers. He goes on to say that, “This event will help showcase some of the very best amateur players in the United States.”
Most importantly, coaches and scouts from the colleges to the pro ranks will identify New Jersey more and more as the crucible it has always been for quality baseball talent. Of all the obvious reasons for bringing this tournament to our state, none ranks more notable than the fact that New Jersey’s best young ball players will see how they compare with the best talent from around the country.
The assemblage of talent at the Don Mattingly World Series will form what Dilgard describes as the “next crop of athletes to be recruited.” Considering the number of them who are expected to descend upon the Hunterdon County area this August, finding available housing could become a daunting task. To contend with that issue, the JCBA staff hopes to attract families of Little League players to serve as hosts.
Already “five or six” area youth leagues have agreed to support the effort, according to Dilgard. “The idea is to get some community involvement through a host family program in which we hope to attain families interested in baseball to take in visiting players during the tournament. These are the top amateur players in the United States and some may go on to play professionally or perhaps in the Major Leagues. Some local family may someday be able to say the next Major League phenom stayed with them during the Don Mattingly World Series” The Super-17 team, of course, will not require housing.
New Jersey Baseball will keep a close watch on events leading up to what will certainly form one of the signature baseball tournaments in the country, both in 2006 and well into the future. Watch for additional information as the August 9-13 tournament schedule approaches. And make sure you arrange your personal schedule that week to visit the JCBA field to see baseball’s future in the making.
Interested persons seeking additional information about regarding the Don Mattingly World Series may visit www.jackcustbaseball.com or call JCBA at 908-284-1778.