Baseball is “America’s Favorite Pastime.” For many of us Atchison County residents, we lived and breathed baseball in the summers, whether we were a player, a coach, an ump, an organizer, a fan, or a “Princess.” From 1986 to 2001, the excitement culminated at the 11 & Under Continental Amateur Baseball Association Tournament held in Shenandoah, Iowa, Rock Port and Tarkio. Teams – the best of the best – from across the continental U.S., as well as Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico, would flood the city’s fields with their athleticism and enthusiasm. They brought their food and culture too, as many remember Hawaiian pineapples brought with the team and some were treated to a traditional Hawaiian meal. Young local girls became “Princesses” for a week and helped cheer on the players of the team they were matched with. Local men and women worked hours getting the fields ready and manning the food and souvenir booths. The local stores, shops, hotels, restaurants, and gas stations saw an immense boost in sales. Friendships were formed and stars were made.
Gary Riley of Tarkio recently brought to the newspaper’s attention that one of those stars was none other than Kansas City Royals first baseman, All Star, and 3x Golden Glover Eric Hosmer. In 2001, Eric Hosmer played for the Miami, Florida, Mudcats team, which won the 11 and Under C.A.B.A. World Series. The tournament was played in Tarkio, Rock Port, and Shenandoah, Iowa, July 28 through August 3 that year, and Hosmer made his power known. He was awarded the Most Valuable Hitter Award, which was presented by Tarkio Rotarian Riley. Besides Hosmer, other players recognized for their talents that tournament went on to become Major-Leaguers. Gary also presented an award to Adrian Nieto, named Most Valuable Player. Adrian also played for the Miami Mudcats. He made his Major League debut with the Chicago White Sox. Also receiving an award that tournament – the Golden Glove Award – was Mudcat Deven Marrero, now a member of the Boston Red Sox. Also playing in that year’s tournament were players who became NFL athletes and a pro golfer.
So, if you were a C.A.B.A. player or a Princess, pull out those handy-dandy autograph books or sheets you had as a kid, or those hundred pictures your mom took during the tournament, and see if any familiar names or faces pop up. Considering there were at least three pre-baseball stars playing that year alone, there are bound to be more.