More than 200 16-18 –year-old baseball players and their coaches will converge on Easley next week as the city hosts the Big League World Series for the 12th consecutive year at the JB “Red” Owens Recreational Complex.
The tournament features six US teams, including the host team from the Easley area, as well as five international teams, who have earned spots in the series from around the globe. Below is information about four of the International teams in the competition. The fifth team, which will come from Canada,will be determined in a tournament this weekend. A profile on the Canadian team will be included with a roundup of the US cities represented in next week’s issue of The Progress.
San Juan, Puerto Rico received the International automatic qualifier bid for 2012, a bid that rotates between Puerto Rico and Mexico each year. Puerto Rico reached the championship game of the Big League World Series last season and officials said this team will likely contain players from that team. Last year, Puerto Rico won the Latin America championship to advance to the Easley tournament. This year marks the third consecutive year a team from Puerto Rico has reached the Big League World Series. Overall, in the 12 seasons the tournament has been in Easley, Puerto Rico has been represented six times, winning the championship in 2002 and 2010.
Although it is actually a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico is counted as an international team for the Big League World Series. It is located between the Carribean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in 1493 and named the island “San Juan Bautista” in honor of John the Baptist. Juan Ponce de Leon was appointed governor of the island and he founded San Juan in 1521, naming it the City of Puerto Rico, meaning “rich port.” San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico and is the oldest city in a US territory. The city has a population of about 420,000 people.
Maracaibo, Venezuela is the third team from Venezuela to make it to the Big League World Series in Easley. A Venezuelan team reached the championship game of the tournament in 2001 and a team from Maracaibo reached the semi-finals in 2005. The team advanced this year, going 3-1 in pool play in the nine-team Latin American Big League tournament and then defeated Mexico 4-0 in the semifinals and defeated a team Guatemala City, Guatemala for the championship.
Maracaibo is the capital of the Zulia State of Venezuela and is located on the western end of the country. The city was discovered in 1499 by Alonso de Ojeda,who had sailed with Christopher Columbus. The city is located on a lake which is named after the city. Maracaibo is second to Caracus as Venezuela’s top oil cities. It has a population of around 2 million and is the second largest city in Venezuela.
Muntinlupa, Philippines is the fourth team from the Philippines to reach the Big League World Series in the past 12 years. Teams from the Philippines also participated in the tournament 2002, 2010 and 2011. Muntinlupa won the Asia/Pacific tournament earlier this month in Guam to advance to the Big League World Series
Muntinlupa is located a little more than 13 miles south of the Metro Manila area. It was originally an agricultural area and now is more of a suburban area for those working in Manila. It has a population of just over 450,000.
Buttrio, Italy is making its first trip to the Big League World Series, but a team from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Little League went to the Junior League World Series in 2009 and the Senior League World Series last year. The team last year reached the semifinals of the Senior League World Series. Easley City Councilman Chris Mann, whose family is hosting the Italian team, said he has been in contact with the team and that most of the 17 players on the roster played on both of the previous teams. Buttrio won the championship of the Europe/Middle East/Africa tournament this month, defeating a team from South Africa 3-0 in the finals. The team scored 10 runs in each of its first two games of that tournament, but was held to three runs in its last two games.
Buttrio is located in the Udine Province of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Northeast Italy. It has a population of just over 4,000 people.