Sunriser Lions, Pee Wee Baseball celebrate 50th year of Firecracker Tourney

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By DAVID LESNICK

The Daily Inter Lake

The Sunriser Lions Club and Kalispell Pee Wee Baseball Association Firecracker Tournament reaches a historic milestone next month as it celebrates its 50th year.

Opening ceremonies will be held 2 p.m. on July 5th with Betsy Wood signing the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at Kidsports Complex. Other tournament festivities are still in the planning stages.

Play begins immediately after the anthems on Fry, Harp, Haven, Holler, Lee, Johns, Beeman and J&S fields.

The three-day event ends July 7th with championship games at 2 p.m.

Action on the second and third days start at 8 a.m.

Pee Wee Baseball is for youngsters ages 9-12.

Forty-nine teams from Montana, Canada and Washington are entered. There are five divisions — 9U, 10U, 11/12U, 11U and 12U,

The 9U, 10U, 11/12U teams have 60-foot bases, the 11U and 12U have 70-foot bases.

Each team will participate in pool play (three games) followed by championship bracket action.

There is no admission fee. Competing teams pay an entry fee of $450.

The tournament has grown over the years and has been played at three different sites.

The first 10 years the tournament was held at Griffin Field, which was located where Super 1 now resides.

Eight teams, four from the Flathead Valley and four from Canada, played in the first event back in 1969.

Play was then moved to three fields behind the current Flathead Electric location before going to Kidsports.

Sunriser Lions ran the tournament during the early years, with Kalispell Pee Wee Baseball taking over those duties a couple years after it was held at Kidsports.

This event is a major fundraiser for the Lions, which fills the tournament program with local advertising, sponsors and rosters of the competing teams.

Dan Schmauch is the president of the Kalispell Pee Wee Association and Dave Falcon is the president of the Sunriser Lions Club.

Long-time youth sports backer Bruce Nikunen is the tournament director and Mike Wood is the program chairman of the Sunriser Lions Club.

This event has attracted as many as 70 teams. The total for this year is down slightly because Kalispell is also hosting the State Cal Ripken Tournament at Kidsports Complex July 12-14. Some state teams elected to pass on the Firecracker with state also in the Flathead Valley.

The 9U State Cal Ripken Tournament at Kidsports is for all Montana teams.

There are two 10U State Cal Ripken Tournament sites — Kidsports for Western Montana teams and Miles City for Eastern Montana.

All state winners advance to regional play in Meridian, Idaho.

Firecracker Tournament

July 5-7

At Kidsports Complex

Participating Teams

12U

1. Kalispell Lakers

2. Belgrade

3. Mission Valley

4. Whitefish All-Stars

5. Glacier All-Stars (Columbia Falls/Bigfork)

6. Medicine Hat

7. Libby

8. Kalispell All-Stars

9. North Central 12U

10. North Valley

11U

1. Kalispell Lakers

2. Belgrade

3. Gallatin Valley

4. Mission Valley

5. Bitterroot South

11/12U

1. Rocky Mountain LL

2. Trail All-Stars

3. Foothills Rockies

4. Medicine Hat

5. Kalispell All-Stars

6. Moose Jaw

7. Tobacco Valley Rangers (Eureka)

8. Fish Creek All-Stars

9. Cranbrook All-Stars

10. Calgary West All-Stars

11. Clearwater LL

12. Southwest LL (Lethbridge)

13. Chewelah LL

14. South Chief All-Stars

10U

1. Kalispell Lakers

2. Whitefish All-Stars

3. Rocky Mountain LL

4. Belgrade

5. Columbia Falls All-Stars

6. Foothills Rockies

7. Trail All-Stars

8. Medicine Hat All-Stars

9. Mission Valley

10. Spokane 10U All-Stars

11. Chewelah 10U

12. Spokane Musketeers

9U

1. Kalispell Lakers

2. Belgrade

3. Great Falls Lightning

4. Whitefish

5. Rocky View

6. Bitterroot South

7. Gallatin Valley 9U

8. Great Falls Lightning

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