The Salem News
---- — SALEM — The Ray Gallant Memorial Tournament, bringing together some of the North Shore’s best young baseball players each August, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this season.
This year’s festivities — the oldest youth baseball tournament on the North Shore — begins on Thursday, Aug. 15, and will run through Wednesday, Aug. 21. Local teams will once again go head-to-head in a double-elimination format, with all games being held at The Stephen M. O’Grady Field at Forest River Park in Salem.
For the first time this year, the Gallant Tournament directors are pleased to announce that the tournament will move permanently to using all wooden bats in the competition.
Along those lines, the Gallant Directors will make available to each participating team a multiple set of wooden bats for use in practice in the weeks prior to the tourney.
“We’ve been talking about this change away from the composite bats for some time now. We had an excellent tournament last year and our fundraising reflected a bit of that,” Gallant Vice President Raymond Cruddas said.
“We’ve been concerned about the composite bat issue for some time now,” added Pat O’Keefe, the tournament’s president. “We’ve all seen the news where a pitcher gets one back too fast and he has not had the time to react at all levels. Kids are bigger and stronger and these (composite) bats are making it easier for anyone of any size to maximize their swing. The ball rockets off these bats.”
Safety is the reason for the change, said tournament director Kevin McGrath.
“Salem Little League has banned the use of composite bats for a few years now. The Gallant Tourney started this last year with the banning of total composites for the competition. We did allow composite handles, but nothing more,” said McGrath. “Because we were doing it for safety, the ruling was very well received by all but a select few teams.”
Each team will receive a set of wooden bats for use throughout their tournament play; multiple bats of each size (28 to 31 ounces) will be provided to each team. Should there be the need to replace a broken bat, there will be plenty of each size available at the field.
With Beverly and Danvers pulling out of this year’s tournament, Gallant newcomers will include Amesbury and Wakefield. The pairings will be announced in the near future.