PEPPERELL -- Pepperell Youth Baseball president Gary Gouldrup wanted to give more local kids the opportunity to play summer baseball, and he reached out to the teams of the Macintosh League to propose his idea for a second season.
Summer baseball can often be stressful on the parents of players, who have to pay large sums of money and travel long distances to play, in some cases, a minimum of three games.
That is not the case with Gouldrup's newly formed tournament. The league is run at minimum cost to the town league and players.
"I started this thing because we really didn't have anything local that they could participate in," Gouldrup said. "There is a Cal Ripken District Tournament, but you are not guaranteed more than a few games. I started asking around and we gained a lot of interest from the local area. All of the towns in the tournament border each other."
Macintosh League teams Shirley 1, Shirley 2, Pepperell, Littleton, Groton, Dunstable, Townsend, and Tyngsboro, non Macintosh League member, round out the eight-team tournament field. The tournament is run at essentially no cost, other than the host team paying for the services of the umpire and supplying baseballs.
"That's really been a good sell for the most part," Gouldrup said. "A lot of tournaments will cost around $400-$500 per team. Each team will pay roughly $250 per team, and the kids from our town play for $50. It's not bad at all.
Gouldrup's U9 Tournament, entering its first season, is not a replacement for the defunct Stacy Bradley Tournament for seven- and eight-year-olds. Teams involved in the Macintosh Summer Baseball Tournament will play 10 games, five of which will be held at home. The winning and runner-up teams will receive trophies at the conclusion of the bracket during the first week of August.
"Most families want to stay home and hang around during the summer," Gouldrup said. "The Mac League has been great in terms of everyone being right in the local area.
"I was able to generate enough interest in the tournament," he said. "All of these kids have participated in the spring Mac League. Some are coming from all the other leagues. They all fall in the under nine-year-old range -- except for a couple of 10-year-olds who we made exceptions for."
The tournament will be played under Majors 60 rules with some exceptions. For example, a batter is out on a dropped third strike, no throw to first is needed to complete the out. There will be a four-run cap on each inning to keep the game flowing. Gouldrup hopes that the tournament will be a stepping stone for players, who will be introduced to similar rules next season.
"Most of these kids are coming from the minors, so introducing unlimited stealing is good for them," Gouldrup said. "We have incorporated bunting and unlimited stealing to prepare them for Majors 60 next season.
"Most of these kids who have been in the minors, there will be a good portion of them moving into the majors," said Gouldrup. "The districts and the tournament are good ways for kids to get comfortable with playing real baseball. The tournament gives families like mine some excitement and an opportunity to continue to play baseball. This is a good way to continue the season and get them all on the field for the summer."