LYNN — Lynn Babe Ruth President Jeff Earp has seen more than a few successful All-Star teams represent the city at the highest levels. Every year it seems like either the 13, 14 or 15-year-old All-Stars are contending for a championship, but this year all three have a chance at bringing home a state title.
“It never gets old,” Earp said. “It does seem like it happens a lot where each team plays well in the first round. We’ve always usually had one team make it to states, maybe a second team, but this is the first year in my memory that all three have moved on to states. We have two No. 1 seeds going into the states as well.”
The 13 and 14-year-old teams enter the state final rounds as No. 1 seeds. The 15-year-olds, who play under a different format, cruised through districts while outscoring opponents 50-8 on their way to the state finals.
“It’s such a huge success,” Earp said. “You can’t say enough about what these kids have accomplished. It says a lot about them and this city. There’s a real possibility Lynn could have three state titles this year.”
Earp always has the start of all-star season marked on his calendar and Lynn’s success this summer has made the experience even more special.
“The all-stars are just a higher level of intensity,” Earp said. “You get to showcase your whole league against other cities. Everyone’s intensity just rises. The community shows out and gets behind our teams. Everything is amped up to another level and you can’t compare it.
“I love seeing the kids in this city go out and show their worth,” Earp said. “It showcases how talented they are and baseball in Lynn. It’s always worth it to invest in uniforms and equipment. They deserve to feel special.”
The success is no shock to the players on each team. Each roster has found a winning formula on the diamond in the past and while that confidence can help, it’s also been a hurdle for each team to overcome while trying to stay focused on the task at hand.
“It helps them and it hurts them,” Earp said of the confidence. “Sometimes you go in a little bit unprepared and the teams can take these games for granted. But it hasn’t all been easy. Every team has been tested at some point and it’s helped them. The coaches look at it and they know what it’s like to see a lead slip away. They’ve been there. They look at the younger kids and make sure they know that it’s not over until it’s over.”
That group of managers includes Rich Avery (13’s), Paul Hartford (14’s) and Brian O’Connor (15’s). Each one has played a huge role in the league’s success this season and in the past.
“It’s a great group,” Earp said. “Brian O’Connor has managed that group for three years now. They have made it far and lost in real tight games where mistakes have hurt them, so they have that experience driving them. Hartford managed the 13-year-olds last year and they ended up third in the state. Rich Avery is a real throwback, old-school manager and I like it. He stays on them.”
With all three respective state tournaments kicking off this weekend it’s been hard to contain the excitement.
“It’s real exciting because this is the first time that we have had three teams in the states,” Earp said. “The kids, they all talk about it constantly. They are all close and talking about how many people will be there at their games at each location. It means a lot to them to have the support and have the city’s eyes on them right now.”
The 13-year-old All-Stars will start Friday or Saturday (TBA) in Somerville. The 14-year-old tournament is being hosted at Bowzer Complex in Lynn and begins Saturday night. The 15-year-olds travel to World Series Park and begin Friday (5:30) against host Saugus.