Local team only Canadians in Cooperstown tournament

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CooperTownTourney2 by Fred Groves

Some people never get the opportunity to represent their country. So, when you can do it when you are 12-years old, it’s special.

The Essex Minor Baseball Association’s peewee travel team made the trek to a sports shrine last month, and for the players, coaches, and parents, it will be a trip not forgotten.

Cooperstown, New York is the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and besides the historic museum that encompasses the passion and pride of the game, it is also the place where dreams come true.

From August 18-24, the Essex Yellowjackets were the only Canadian club in a youth tournament that attracted a whopping 104 teams.

“There were teams from all over the United States. For youth sports, it’s probably the biggest tournament,” Essex Coach Bill Fenton said.
Preparing for the event, Essex not only designed a handsome-looking banner to show off its hometown, the team also asked municipal, provincial, and federal politicians for flags to carry along into the event.

“A few players asked our Mayor, Taras Natyshak (MPP), and Tracey Ramsey (MP) if we could have some small flags and we asked for a big flag so we could show everyone we are from Canada,” third baseman/outfielder, Nathan Smith, said.

Smith said what he remembers most about the Cooperstown trip was that the barracks where they slept was different, and jokingly he said more than once they had to use a product to freshen things up.CooperTownTourney1

Centrefielder/catcher Emmit Paquette was a homerun hitter at the tournament, but admitted that the American teams were good.

“They were tough. They hit a lot and they pitched fast,” Paquette said.

For his roundtripper, he was presented with a hoodie and a collective pin to mark his accomplishment. When the Yellowjackets met at the Essex diamond recently to talk about their trip, several of them unveiled their pin collection that had hundreds of collectables.

“There was one special pin that only one player per team got. It’s from the owner of Cooperstown,” Konner McDermott said.

Pins, shirts, caps, rings, bats, trading cards–there were a lot of material items to bring home, but for Colin Brownlee, who would like to go again, “It was spending time with teammates,” that was the best part.

Cooperstown motto is, ‘Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.’ For the Essex peewee Yellowjackets, that’s what it was.

“It’s the ultimate baseball experience,” Coach Fenton said.

And how did Essex, which is celebrating its 60th Anniversary, fair on the diamond against their American rivals? Well, that’s for the next trip.