A couple weeks ago, the high school baseball season came to a close but lovers of the sport in the Auburn-Opelika area will not have to wait for long to see more baseball.
From June 11-13, the Auburn area will host the former Atlanta Braves as part of an initiative known as “Growing The Game.” This initiative hopes to spread the love of baseball to a new generation of athletes.
“For kids, baseball is a sport that has seen ebbs and flows,” said Anthony Terling, sports and event development manager at Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau. “It’s not as fast-paced but I think this is a way to keep the kids involved in our country’s oldest (major) sport whether they are just getting started or are experienced.”
Along with the “Growing the Game’’ initiative, the Atlanta Braves will be hosting a three-day event known as the Braves Country Battles — a tournament that will see anywhere between 40 and 70 teams compete against one another for a chance to play in the Braves Country Championship. The Braves Country Battles will be open to anyone ages 6 to 18, and the championship tournament will be held July 9-11 in the Greater Atlanta area.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Atlanta Braves to host the Braves Country Battles,” said Terling. “I’m thankful for the efforts of our Parks and Recreation departments for the work they do to make these events successful. We look forward to welcoming the teams and their families to the Auburn-Opelika area for a great weekend of baseball.”
The event was able to come together after Terling, who regularly attends various conferences, noticed that Atlanta Braves officials were representing the organization at the same conference he was at. To his surprise, they were not looking for mere sponsorship money, but willing to help the community out through the “Growing the Game” initiative.
After working with both the cities of Auburn and Opelika and their respective Parks and Rec departments, the tournament was secured.
“The Atlanta Braves have developed this series of youth baseball tournaments to focus on providing teams from across Braves Country with a fun, competitive and unforgettable tournament experience, and this is just one aspect of our efforts to grow our game across the Southeast,” said Atlanta Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller. “We look forward to our partnership with Auburn-Opelika Tourism and to bringing the Braves Country Battles to Auburn.”
The “Growing the Game” initiative will kick off Friday, June 11, and families are encouraged to come out and enjoy Aubie, the Braves, food, music and good baseball.
The rest of the weekend will be devoted to the tournament, where teams from Florida, Georgia, and right here in east Alabama will be competing for the chance to head to Atlanta.
However, you or your child don’t need to be playing in the tournament to come out and enjoy the free event on Friday.
“This is more than just a tournament, it’s an experience,” said Terling. “Parents know with most baseball tournaments there can be long weekends. With most baseball, it’s always about the game but this is an experience.”
Braves Country Battles Auburn will feature the Friday night ceremony with a skills competition and a meet-and-greet with Atlanta Braves alumni. The Braves Country Battles are powered by 17 Tournaments and both boys and girls may participate.
For pricing, locations, and more information about “Growing The Game,” visit https://www.mlb.com/braves/community/youth-baseball.