Nearly 200 youth baseball players are competing in the 's (SLBB) international tournament, hosted by the Ballwin Athletic Association, (BAA) Aug. 4-11.
But this isn't just any baseball tournament.
The 13 participating teams come from the U.S., Australia, Europe and Japan to play ball during the eight day tourney at the BAA baseball fields. Seven teams compete in a 12 and under age division and the remaining are 15 and under teams.
From translating ground rules into Japanese to using photo references in the concession stand, Ballwin Mayor Tim Pogue, Alderman Jimmy Terbrock and BAA Director Vern Young shared some of the ways the organizing committee brought comfort and ease to the players.
During their stay, international teams are hosted by area families who volunteered to open their home for lodging and providing meals.
"It's heartwarming to see people come together like this," Pogue said.
Sheri O'Brien has 16 international ball players at her home this week, plus her son who plays for the USA Nationals team.
"It's so fun and it gets difficult to choose who to cheer for," O'Brien said. "The best part is learning about their countries."
After rescheduling two games Saturday and two games Sunday because of rain, the rest of the week includes plenty of opportunities for the teams to trek around the St. Louis area. Pogue said the teams can choose to go to the St. Louis Cardinals game Monday, participate in a lock-in and have a one-day pass to .
"This is like the Mecca for us. America is the home of baseball," said Ralph Warne, delegate and manager of the Australian team. "It's about the friendships with people we get to stay with and we love seeing the improvement and what the kids give back."
An all-star game for the 15U division will be played at T.R. Hughes Stadium in St. Charles at 4 p.m. Aug. 9, preceding a River City Rascals game that evening. Tickets are available for $5 for both games.
The tournament has been in the West County area for 25 years, this year being the first time in more than 15 years Ballwin has hosted the games.
Pogue said several Ballwin businesses have contributed to the tournament, including , , , and .
Game schedules and results are on the SLBBA's website. The tournament's Twitter hashtag is #BAABringsintheWorld.