The Valdosta Daily Times
Over the next few weeks the Valdosta-Lowndes Parks and Recreation All-Star baseball teams will travel to Southaven, Miss. to compete in the Dizzy Dean World Series beginning with 7-year-olds Friday.
The VLPRA will send five teams total to the tournament at Snowden Grove Park, a 7-year-old team, and an 8-year-old team to go along with a 10, 11, and 12 year-old team.
First organized in 1977, Dizzy Dean Baseball Inc. is a non-profit youth Baseball/Softball organization whose goal, according to the website, is to instill in youth the ideas of good sportsmanship, honesty, discipline and a sense of teamwork so that they may become strong, healthy, well-adjusted members of their community.
“It’s a great way to infuse an extra level of competition for these kids,” Jessica Blanton, VLPRA marketing and public relations director, said. “The level of talent is very high, and it really encourages each child to step up their game. Every child has an amazing strength on these teams. It gives them an outlet and a way to travel that I think is really special.”
Jay Hannah “Dizzy” Dean was always interested in youth baseball and the development of youth. Dizzy Dean Baseball, Inc. is a front-runner in youth baseball and softball with intentions to honor Dizzy Dean by associating his name with a recognized leader in the field of youth baseball and softball.
To register for the Dizzy Dean, the VLPRA had to fill out a sanctioning application. Once accepted, the teams gained all the benefits of Dizzy Dean, such as playing in the state tournament and World Series.
The VLPRA pays the team’s entry fee to the World Series, but all other fees are the responsibility of the parents.
Teams that participate in the Dizzy Dean have come predominately from north of Macon, but South Georgia has been joining in on the competition lately, adding Lowndes and Brooks County in the last few years.
“The World Series, from the opening ceremonies, everything is just a first-class operation,” said Jesse Sheeley, Vallotton youth sports supervisor, said. “The kids have a really goo time, it’s all about the kids, all about the kids having fun and enjoying themselves.”
The seven, eight, and 11 age groups automatically qualify for the World Series after playing in the state tournament. The 10 and 12 year old teams could only qualify for the World Series by being in the top two teams at the state tournament.
The 11-year-olds will be the first team to make the trip to Southaven. Accompanied by VLPRA representative Jessica Blanton, the 11-year-old All-Stars are set to report Friday. If the team was to make it to the title game, they’d like conclude play Tuesday or Wednesday.
The 8-year-olds report for their opening ceremonies on July 17, and the 7, 10, and 12-year-old age groups report July 19.
Each age divisions bracket can be found at the Dizzy Dean official website.
Each year the VLPRA holds a regular season for the area’s youth baseball and softball players.
As the regular season winds to a close near the end of May, coaches nominate the top players from their respective teams.
Coaches vote on the nominated players to make up the all-star teams and these all-star teams are invited to continue playing past the regular season in hopes of gaining a berth to the Dizzy Dean World Series.
This year will mark the third year the VLPRA has had a team make it to the Dizzy Dean World Series, twice winning the championship.
In 2011 the VLPRA All-Star team in the 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds division won the World Series title.
Last year the VLPRA had their 8-year-old team finish top 20 out of 60 teams and their 10-year-old team finish 7th out of 26 teams.
Members of those teams have loved every moment of the experience.
“The kids from year past still talk about it,” said Sheeley. “A lot of those kids play travel ball and play in different tournaments, but they always talk about the Dizzy Dean World Series and the fun that they had.”
Jimbo Scruggs, head coach of the 7-year-old team, has been trying to keep his own excitement at a managable level.
This is the first time Scruggs will be coaching a team that has qualified to play in the Dizzy Dean World Series.
“The hardest thing has been keeping their heads level,” said Scruggs. “They haven’t played together too many times so it’s important to keep their spirits up if we lose and keep them level-headed when we’re winning.”
Visit www.dizzydeanbbinc.org or www.facebook.com/vlpra for Dizzy Dean brackets and more information.