Thunder Bay·Video

Volunteers key to success of U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Kendrys Morales, Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin all have more in common than successful Major League Baseball careers. Each of them, and others, also played for their respective national teams at an Under-18 Baseball World Cup tournament.

Playoff round gets underway Thursday

Team Canada plays the U.S. tonight at 6 pm at Port Arthur Stadium during the Under-18 Baseball World Cup playoff round. (WBSC/Christian J. Stewart )

Kendrys Morales, Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Russell Martin, JP Howell — they all have more in common than successful Major League Baseball careers.

Each of them — and many, many more — also played for their respective national teams at an Under-18 Baseball World Cup tournament, just like the one that's taking place in Thunder Bay, Ont., this week.

"The history of this tournament is just amazing in terms of it churning out players," said Warren Philp, president of the Thunder Bay International Baseball Association, which is hosting the event. "The tournament goes back to 1981, so it's got a long history."

"It's the tournament where legends are begun."

It's taking a village to give the future pros a chance to show their stuff on the field, however, Philp said.

500 volunteers

There are about 500 volunteers helping to make sure the tournament runs smoothly at Port Arthur Stadium and Baseball Central, the two sites where the games are being played, he said.

"We're spread over about 16 different functional areas," Philp said. "Our logistics hub is the community auditorium, we've got six teams staying in the Valhalla Inn, six teams staying in the Airlane, and about 45 or 50 officials from all over the world staying at the Best Western Nor'Wester."

"We have to have volunteers to support all those venues," he said. "And in true Thunder Bay style ... we are really getting behind this event."

And now, Philp is calling on the city's baseball fans to rally and get down to either Baseball Central or Port Arthur Stadium to take in the remaining games.

Playoffs underway

The tournament's playoffs began today, and Canada will take on the U.S. at 6 p.m. at Port Arthur Stadium.

Playoff and consolation-round games continue through Saturday, with the bronze- and gold-medal games to be played Sunday.

"We want to see the sea of red out there," Philp said. "Wear your red-and-white."

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