It’s another summer, and it’s another National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series to be held in Toledo.
Later this month, the NABF College World Series will take place in the Glass City, giving area residents the chance to see college baseball players from across the country compete against each other. There will also be the NABF Junior World Series for teams with kids 16 and under.
The tournaments, which will be played at four sites, the University of Toledo’s Scott Park, Lourdes University’s Mercy Field, the City of Toledo’s Rich Arbinger Field at Bowman Park and St. Francis de Sales High School, features summer college teams from various parts of the country that qualify by winning their league title and a regional championship.
Starting on Wednesday, the Junior World Series begins before concluding on Sunday. The wood-bat College World Series, which since it first arrived in Toledo in 2004, has seen the likes of Major Leaguers David Freese, a St. Louis Cardinals third baseman, Cincinnati Reds third baseman Tony Cingrani, and Perrysburg native and Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Burke Badenhop also played in the tournament.
This year’s College World Series starts play on July 30 at the four pool play sites before finishing up on August 3 at Mercy Field.
Freese played for a St. Louis summer college team that won NABF CWS championships in 2003, and another St. Louis team that played when the event first came to Toledo in 2004. The 2003 team was followed by another St. Louis team, which he did not play for, that won it exactly 10 years later.
A MLB World Series MVP with the St. Louis Cardinals when they won a world title, Freese attended the reunion for the 2003 team and also the celebration for the 2013 team that won it in Toledo. Cingrani played for the Illinois Jayhawks when that team qualified and played in Toledo.
NABF board member and College Division Director Aaron Myers, an employee with the City of Toledo in the Parks, Recreation and Forestry division, is excited about what the teams have to offer again this year and what the area baseball fans can gain from watching them play. Myers says that there will be teams representing the Midwest and East Coast as well as Texas and Canada.
“I think coming out and seeing the various teams representing their states draws the avid baseball fan,” said Myers, who was recently named the head baseball coach at Sylvania Southview. “Those that aren't really die hard baseball fans, they come, and they get a sense of good competition. And families can come because it's something to enjoy with their kids.
“I think something like this is good for the city and good for people in the area to watch a different brand of baseball. Sometimes the Southern teams are a little stronger because the season lasts long. The East Coast, there's a different style, and it's great to see the different culutures and to see how baseball is played in different parts of the country. And it's another opportunity to put Toledo on the baseball map.”
The tournaments also help to create a jolt for Toledo's economy, an added bonus. Myers, a 1993 Waite grad, traveled out of state to bid for the Junior World Series, which had been held in Northville, Michigan the past 30 years.
“It's definitely important because (the tournament) energizes the atmosphere and brings in different people and they see the things that we have to offer in Toledo,” Myers, 39, said. “We have COSI (the Imagination Station), the zoo, the casino, the Mud Hens. Toledo benefits greatly from this – the revenue, recognition and it brings entertainment on a cheap scale.”
Myers is well traveled in local baseball circles. He was the head coach at Otsego for three years (2010-12), went 42-30 and coached Ryan Smoyer, who recently completed his freshman season at the University of Notre Dame. Smoyer appeared in 11 games for the Fighting Irish, started twice and finished with a 4.19 ERA.
Myers replaces Ed Mouch, who accumulated 100 wins in six seasons with the Cougars. Myers had served as an assistant coach under Mouch during two stints at Southview (2008-09; 2013-14) and once at St. John's Jesuit. Myers also helped to restart the program at Maumee Valley Country Day and established a solid foundation there, serving as head coach for three years, and was an assistant to Tom Kontak at Bowling Green High School, too.
Myers will take over a Southview club that advanced to the Division I regional final last year before losing to state runner-up North Royalton, 3-1. The Cougars will have to replace their top pitcher and two infielders, but for the most part, they remain intact, something that leaves Myers with good reason to be optimistic.
Myers says learning from accomplished coaches has helped shape his baseball philosophy, one that developed from his East Toledo roots.
“I give my dad a lot of credit,” said Myers, referring to a man who was very much involved in the travel-baseball circuit for a number of years. “I take a little from each of these coaches that I've been blessed to coach with. I've experienced so much with so many people, experiencing things with different coaches and kids. I've gotten to experience things with wealthy kids and poverty-stricken kids, and learned a lot.”