It may not be the World Series, but it’s one of the best local baseball tournaments. Over 130 baseball players descended yesterday on the Glacier Twins Stadium at Memorial Park in Whitefish for day one of the 24th Annual Sapa/Johnsrud Memorial Tournament. The five-day invitational tournament drew nine teams from Alberta, Oregon, Washington, California, Saskatchewan, and Flathead Valley.
Both the Kalispell Lakers and Glacier Twins compete in the tournament. “Sometimes baseball scouts come out to watch,” says tournament director Pat Sapa.
The tournament is in honor of Jim Sapa and Ray Johnsrud, two Glacier Twins players from Columbia Falls who were killed in a car-train accident in the mid-1980s. Funds raised during the tournament go to the Sapa/Johnsrud scholarship for a Glacier Twins graduating senior to play college ball.
Starting at 9 a.m., five seven-inning games run each day on Wednesday, July 13, and Thursday, July 14. After three games on Friday, July 11, the tournament sponsors a barbecue for the players and coaches, followed by the scholarship award announcement and the annual Tourney Skills Contest and Home Run Derby. This year adds a new Fungo Hitting Competition in which coaches swing to hit a small screen target at the shortstop position. The tournament’s championship rounds take place on Saturday, July 12, starting at 10 a.m.
For spectators, a concessions stand and beer garden liven up the watching. Evening games take place under the new lights that increase visibility on the field.
Tourney passes are good for all games (adults $15, students/seniors $10, family $30). Single game passes are also available (adults $4, students/seniors $3). Kids 12 and under are free.
“It’s good competition,” said Sapa. “You’re seeing some kids who go on to play pro and have a future in baseball.”
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