July 18-23, “Play ball!” will echo across the Valley as baseball fields in various cities and towns host the 28th Triple Crown World Series. Youth players, their families and coaches from seven states, including Colorado, will participate. This year marks the third consecutive time the Roaring Fork Valley will host the tournament.
The event guarantees each team plays five games, with three pool play games, and then teams are placed into a double-elimination bracket. Games will be played at facilities in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle. The Carbondale games are scheduled at the Bill Hanks Ballfield at North Face Park and the Ron Patch Field next to the Carbondale Middle School.
The July 18 opening ceremony begins at 2pm with the introduction of teams in Snowmass Base Village on the lawn outside The Collective Snowmass, which is followed by pin trading, where players trade team pins with other tournament participants as a way to show team spirit and create special baseball memories for years to come. The day’s events conclude at 3:45pm with a parade of teams.
The Rocky Mountain Colts (RMC) youth baseball program, consisting of players from the Roaring Fork Valley, will have two teams competing in the 14U bracket (ages 14 and under).
In 2020, RMC Program Manager Charlotte Marolt started the team, with the name being a nod to the semi-pro baseball team, the Aspen Colts, formed in the 1880s. Steve Marolt and Todd Raarup joined the start-up efforts and currently coach the Colts 15U blue team.
Nate Grinzinger, RMC program director, shared, “In the summer of 2020, we started with one team of 13 kids, and in three years, we’ve grown the program to 75 kids and four teams. So, we’ve had major success.”
The Colts baseball teams have traveled the state to play, seeking tougher competition to hone their skills. Grinzinger shared, “In the past, kids from the mountains have never competed with Denver or Grand Junction teams.”
Last weekend in Denver, however, the Colts 14U team became the Colorado Classic Baseball’s Mid Summer Wood Bat Classic champions. Now, the Colts are gearing up for the Triple Crown World Series. “This will be some of the best baseball that these kids have ever played, and it’s right in their backyard,” Grinzinger said.
Margot Ellis, Snowmass Tourism national sales manager, and Roland Rivera, Triple Crown Sports event director, “put everything together to make this tournament happen,” Grinzinger shared. Ellis worked with lodging establishments throughout the Roaring Fork Valley to find one week of housing for 33 teams, each with a group of about 50 people.
And that influx of visitors also translates to money being infused into our local economy. Andy Hansen, chief marketing officer for the Fort Collins-based Triple Crown Sports, said, “We try to partner with as many different restaurants and local activities as we can, and then promote back to the teams and their families so they can take advantage of the hospitality and nice weather here. It’s a nice economic boost to the Valley for that week.”
Grinzinger encourages local umpires to take in some games. He said Triple Crown Sports provides “really high-level umpiring crews.” The home-run derby and skills competitions will be held at Crown Mountain Park and Crawford Field in El Jebel. The championship game will be played on July 23.
All games are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, go to www.tcworldseries.com