By ADAM LAPIERRE
News staff writer
March 4, 2006
As the infields and pitcher’s mounds start to dry out for the spring, Hood River’s youth baseball community is fast at work preparing for another season of America’s most popular sport. And among the projects in the works is the transition for 13-14-year-old boys from Babe Ruth to Junior Baseball of Oregon (JBO).
A handful of local coaches applied for Hood River to be accepted into the Tri-County JBO league. The league voted unanimously to accept Hood River, and after discussing the move with Babe Ruth organizers, parents and other coaches, the decision has been made to replace 13-14 Babe Ruth with 13-14 JBO this season.
The Tri-County league granted Hood River two JBO teams in the 13-14 year old division — a Federal team and an American team. The JBO system is divided into three levels, Federal, American and National, with Federal being for the most advanced players, American the next step down and National for the least experienced. The idea behind the three levels is to have kids play at their skill level, rather than not getting to play if they’re inexperienced, or not progress if they are advanced players.
JBO is not new to town. In the past, Hood River has had JBO tournament teams that played in a handful of tournaments in the summer alongside the Babe Ruth season. But, because they didn’t belong to a specific league, the teams were limited strictly to open tournaments.
Now that Hood River has been accepted into the Tri County League, they will have the opportunity to play a full season schedule, with a playoff tournament, against a large variety of teams in the league from the Portland/Metro area.
“I support the move because I think there’s more and consistently better competition in JBO,” said Hood River Valley High School varsity baseball coach Craig Webster. “Coming from the Portland area, I know that the better players are involved with JBO. I just like our kids to play ball, and I think they will get better competition this way.”
For those specifically involved, or with 13-14-year-old baseball players, the following information is important:
Anyone signed up for Babe Ruth this season will have their league fees reimbursed.
Tri County teams will travel to Hood River on a regular basis for league games.
Tryouts for the two teams will be at 6 p.m. this Tuesday and Thursday at the Hood River Valley High School baseball field.
Everyone will make a team. JBO is open for kids of all abilities and everyone who tries out will get on a team.
After tryouts, a board meeting will be held to discuss league play, travel, playing fields, the election of new board members and any other questions the community may have about the JBO program or the transition. The meeting time and dates will be announced when established.
For more information about JBO, visit: www.juniorbaseballoforegon.com