An open, tongue-in-cheek letter to visiting JUCO fans

Dear visiting JUCO teams and fans,

On behalf of the citizens of Grand Junction, Fruita, Palisade, Clifton, Orchard Mesa, Fruitvale and an unincorporated parcel of 29 Road, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s 53rd annual Alpine Bank Junior College World Series of Baseball, or, as we like to call it for short: the National Junior College Athletic Association’s 53rd annual Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Each year, Grand Junction rolls out the red carpet for a week of exciting JUCO baseball action featuring 10 teams, most of which hail from warm Southern states. Occasionally there’ll be a team from say, Iowa or New York, but they’re usually eliminated early in the tournament, sometimes during the JUCO banquet.

Regardless of where they’re from, the spirit of competition and sportsmanship on display by the student-athletes is quite impressive.

Which is why we’ve been proud to host all but one of the JUCO tournaments. The first one was mistakenly held in Miami, Okla., and it was a poorly attended affair. It turns out that not everyone wants to spend their one-week vacation in a God-forsaken northeast Oklahoma town in June. Blame for that mix-up fell on the JUCO travel secretary, as she later recalled in an May 1959 interview with The Daily Sentinel:

“What am I, a mind reader? All I know is that they told me to organize the tournament for Miami. If they wanted it in Florida, they should have been more specific.”

So we have it now, and we aren’t letting go of it. Unless someone else wants it. Because, no offense, but you visiting JUCO teams and fans sure clog up the intersection of 12th and North.

But that’s OK. We’re still glad you’re here. We love you, and we welcome you with open arms — just so long as leave by next Sunday.

Truth be known, we love hosting the tournament. It’s a huge financial boost to our local economy, and by “local economy” I mean the Applebee’s on Horizon Drive. The rest of us aren’t really affected at all.

All we do is enjoy the games, packing the stadium with almost 11,000 fans, not counting the teenagers under the stands, in which case it’s 130,000 fans.

We also enjoy our traditions, like the annual baseball mud rub. This is when tournament officials open up boxes of official game balls and get together with the ball boys to spend an afternoon gently rubbing mud all over them. (The baseballs, I mean.)

Most locals also appreciate the simple majesty of baseball. Take, for example, Mike Reynolds of Clifton, who comes out to JUCO every single year.  I asked Mike why he loves JUCO. He said he doesn’t; he just wants to get away from his nagging wife for a few hours and eat funnel cake. So maybe that’s a bad example.

The bottom line, you visiting JUCO teams and fans, is that — like you — we fully appreciate the game. We love the passion. The excitement. After all, who could forget last year’s thrilling championship game?

I could.

No, sorry. What I meant to say is that I remember it well. Especially the part when that team of 18-year-old Southerners beat that other team of 18-year-old Southerners.

Good times.

So, in conclusion, visiting JUCO teams and fans, we appreciate you making the long trek out here. Because all joking aside, we’re in a tough economy, and every bit of tourism helps. Thus, on behalf of the citizens of Grand Junction, we thank you for visiting. Please enjoy your stay. And most importantly:

Make sure you’re out by Sunday.

E-mail Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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