The McHenry County Youth Sports Association’s Summer International Championships return this weekend in celebration of its 30th year.
The first MCYSA tournament was held in 1993 and was known as the Continental Baseball Association World Series. Over the years, the tournament field has grown significantly to include more teams and age groups. The tournament has regularly hosted international teams, including teams from Japan, Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Teams from the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Russia, Lithuania and Aruba also have participated.
The tournament is split into two sessions (July 14-17 and July 20-23), with the first session beginning Friday at various parks in Crystal Lake and Woodstock. Sixty-two teams will plays in this year’s event, which is staffed primarily by volunteers.
There is no cost of admission for spectators. Team schedules and additional info can be found at mcysasports.org.
Here are five things to know about the MCYSA summer baseball tournament.
1. Notable alumni
The MCYSA tournament is filled with notable alumni and players who have gone on to have successful careers in professional baseball. Local alumni who have already made their MLB appearances include Bobby Miller, Nick Martini, Connor Sadzeck and Kevin Kaczmarski. Quinn Priester, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2019 first-round MLB draft pick, is a hopeful call-up this season.
Other MLB players include Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Benintendi, Brian McCann, Vernon Wells and Jason Werth. NFL players who have played in the tournament include Brian Bulaga and Miles Boykin.
One of the biggest draws to the MCYSA tournament is that it not only attracts teams from across the country but from all over the world. This year, the 62-team tourney will feature teams from Japan, Brazil and Canada. Brazil is making its return after it was unable to compete from 2020 to 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan, a tournament favorite, has won the 15U championship in each of the past five years it has participated.
3. Opening ceremonies
The first session will feature a special Opening Night ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mickey Sund Complex at Lippold Park. It will include a parade of teams, national anthems of all countries represented, ceremonial first pitches, presentation of the Justin Schroeder Scholarship award winners and two feature games. Kids 10 years and younger will get a chance to run the bases after the two feature games and get a tournament pin.
4. 30 years
The second session will kick off with a 30th anniversary celebration at 7 p.m. July 20th at the Mickey Sund Complex. The ceremony will include team introductions, national anthems of all countries represented, ceremonial first pitches, Hall of Fame recognition, an appearance by YouTube star Domingo Ayala, two feature games and fireworks.
5. Armed Forces Night
An Armed Forces Night to honor the United States Armed Forces and service veterans will be held before the feature game at 7 p.m. July 22 at the Mickey Sund Complex. A local color guard unit will present the colors, local musicians will perform the national anthem and the Northwest Herald’s Joe Stevenson will play taps. A first responders exhibition softball game also will take place at 5:30 p.m.