Hundreds of young baseball players, their families and fans will flock to Huntley this weekend for the Huntley Blue Memorial Day Baseball Bash tournament.
Huntley Blue baseball is the travel organization of Huntley Youth Little League Baseball whose members play around the state and country, said Vince Ottaviano, Huntley Blue vice president of operations.
The team began organizing its bash three years ago, and the tournament has been steadily doubling, he said. Sixty teams — with a total roaster of 750 players — will play at Tomaso Park, on Ackman Road, and Betsey Warrington Park, 12209 West Main St.
Ottaviano predicts 1,500 to 2,000 people will attend the games, which run from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
“Our Huntley Blue program has gotten popular. Our teams are quite good, so a lot of people know about Huntley Blue,” Ottaviano said. “We’ve put this tournament on and a lot of teams are interested in coming to the event.”
Taking the baseball field is a Memorial Day tradition for lots of families, and the bash gives teams a chance to keep the tradition, he said. The tourney also gives teams a chance to see where they stack up halfway into the travel season, which started April 1, he said.
Teams travel from as far as Wisconsin to play at the weekend games, he said. Awards are given for first, second and third places, and team members get a T-shirt.
Huntley Blue has 11 teams for children ages 9 to 16. It has 135 members total, he said. It was started by Mario Mescino.
“This was a Little League tournament that wanted to play more competitive baseball,” Ottaviano said.
Travel baseball teams boomed over the last five years. Parents, kids and coaches wanted more competitive games, he said, to get kids ready for high school.
This year, Huntley Blue will play in New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
Huntley Blue has 300 volunteers helping at different locations doing things like running concessions to field prep to managing parking, he said.
“Each parent is required to work the Memorial Day tournament to ensure a high level of service for participants coming in,” Ottaviano said. “It’s one of the reasons we get more and more teams coming back. We have a good reputation what we do at a service level.”
Huntley Blue’s tournament is also a plus for the village and local businesses. Chiro One Wellness Center will do screenings at the games. This year, the team partnered with to offer discounts to Stingray Bay Aquatic Center and draw more exposure to the Huntley community, he said.
“The Dairy Mart loves this event,” Ottaviano said.