Posted: Jul 10, 2012 9:44 PM by Bill Halter
Updated: Jul 10, 2012 9:45 PM
Last season the San Luis Obispo Blues tied with the Santa Barbara Foresters for the California Collegiate League championship. That earned both teams a berth in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series tournament in Wichita, Kansas. The Foresters went, the Blues didn't because they couldn't afford it. The Foresters ended up winning the national tournament while the Blues were left wondering, what if. "It was disappointing not to be in the tournament and then to watch Santa Barbara go undefeated" said Blues head coach Chal Fanning.
This season the Blues are raising money for the World Series after a push from the fan base. "Just running across Blues fans, sponsors and people who followed what happened. They're the ones expressing disappointment and I think it kind of shows that people in San Luis Obispo, they kind of have something to cling to" said Fanning.
The Blues opened up a booth at home games with a sign that says "The Road to Wichita." They're selling $25 dollar raffle tickets, the winning ticket drawn at the end of the season will win someone ten percent of the pot with the rest going to the team. Also, people have been giving straight donations to the cause. Fanning says the team is off to a go start but still has a long ways to go to be able to afford travel and lodging expenses. "If we're out there and we go all the way and win, it's going to be about 12 days and you basically times that by two. It's about two thousand dollars per day, so it's about $25,000."
The players are hoping the money is raised as they want an opportunity at a championship and the exposure to pro scouts that will come with it. "I think that should be important to everyone on our team. It's a great opportunity ahead of us to play nationally. To be able to show how good this program is and how hard we've worked" said second baseman Will Maddox who plays college ball at the University of Tennessee.
"It's definitely something that's important. It's a once in a lifetime thing we'd get to do. I've heard the competition out there is really good and I've heard the exposure is also really good" said Austin Grisham who plays at Eastern Kentucky during the school year.
As the defending champions, Santa Barbara is guaranteed a spot in the World Series, at least one other California Collegiate League team will be invited and right now the Blues are in second place, a game behind Santa Barbara. The Blues are 22-11 overall and ranked 19th in the nation. Fanning says the NBC World Series committee has spoken with him and he says unless they fall a part in the last two and a half weeks of the season, they will get an invitation to the tournament. If the Blues don't get invited to the tournament the money raised will go toward next seasons team.
The Blues host the Santa Maria Packers on Thursday at 6:00pm. Donations can be made at the game.
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