The Organization

Dr. Hurst Otto is the last original JUCO Committee member who is still active. He is retiring after this year’s tournament and said he’s seen some “amazing changes” over the past 53 years.


Q: How many people are on the committee, and what do they do? How are committee members selected?

A: There are 80 people on the committee, which doesn’t include volunteers for ticket takers and vendors. They are responsible for everything from office needs, sponsorship, programs, the banquet, Hall of Fame displays, soft goods, team housing, pressbox, tickets, practice fields and game entertainment. A lot of people offer their time because each committee has a sub-committee. Everybody is allowed to bring on a committee member to mentor. — Jamie Hamilton, tournament chairman.

Q: Who are those guys in the golf shirts in the dugout? What do they do?

A: Those are the team hosts. “They get the teams from Point A to Point B. The teams that haven’t been here before, they meet them at the airport (or at the hotel if they bus), they take the coaches to headquarters, get the banquet tickets, decide when the barbecue is, get them their car, get them to practice, this is how you get to the banquet, this is where they want you to park the bus. They’re sort of tour guides.” Lee Young, host committee chairman

Q: How is the tournament paid for? What are all those sponsorships for?

A: Most of the dollars comes from local sponsorship, whether it’s Alpine Bank’s corporate sponsorship or from scoreboard to billboard to message board and game sponsors. The NJCAA puts money toward it. Businesses can sponsor games, the scoreboard, message board or team sponsors. Some help with food and lodging. With the website now, there is sponsorship there. There are bullpen sponsors. That all goes toward running the tournament. — Mike Stahl, marketing committee

Q: Who are those guys sitting on the field, and don’t they ever get hit?

A: “They are bunch of fools that don’t get hit. It’s the baseball side of the guys for any (rule) protests. Recently, we’ve had a protest and we need to be out there to talk. We’ve had a few balls hit in there pretty good. I was smoked once in the Japanese All-Star game.” — Walt Bergman, co-director.

One year, Miss America made an appearance at the tournament and was sitting in the commissioner’s box when a foul ball nearly hit her. “Screaming line drive at her head,” Bergman said. “I dove in front of it, a one-hopper. The joke became I saved Miss America.”

Q: What’s the deal with the Hawaiian shirts?

A: “We got that started because we had a few rough tournaments, so when we get down to Wednesday, we drop to two games. As young guys we would do something festive, so we showed it with our colors,” Bergman said. Fans are encouraged to wear their Hawaiian shirts on Wednesday night.

Q: How much time is spent organizing the tournament every year?

A: “We take about a month off after the tournament, then we come back, gather the ticket revenue and write a check to the NJCAA (which receives 50 percent of ticket sales). Shortly after that, we start searching for a banquet speaker. It was a three-year project with (this year’s speaker) Bernie Williams. By January, we’re close to working on it full time.” — Hamilton.

Q: How come some years we have the championship game televised and other years not?

A: “Expense. We usually do two-year contracts. Now, with the NJCAA streaming (every game is online), it doesn’t make sense to do that. We lost money at the gate the final night because people watched it on TV.” — Hamilton.

Q: If a player gets hurt, are their trainers or doctors at the games? What happens if a kid breaks a tooth? Is there a dentist on call?

A: “We do have a set of trainers that rotate through and cover all the games. We have a physician on site for each of the games. Our trainers are able to provide training services (taping, ultrasound, therapy). We have different dentists in town that are good about providing dental services. I try to keep kids out of the emergency room. I’ve done stitches in the locker room. Our goal is to keep them healthy and out of the emergency rooms.” Dr. Tom Motz, medical advisor

Q: I see all sorts of people sitting in the press box and not just the media — who else sits up there during the game?

A: For a typical game, the press box game crew will consist of five people: Official scorekeeper, message center operator, scoreboard operator, sound system operator, and public address announcer. For night games, there can be someone assisting the scorekeeper and message center operator. All are volunteers. — Reford Theobold, pressbox organizer

Hurst Otto has been there from the start.

The retired optometrist was one of the 12 original JUCO Committee members who brought the National Junior College World Series to Grand Junction and is the lone remaining original member on the committee today.

That is ending, though.

Otto, 84, is retiring from the committee after this year’s tournament for personal reasons.

“He’s one of a kind; a wealth of information,” said Lee Young, who has worked directly with Otto for the past 15 years on the host committee. “We certainly enjoy having him around. There’s always a place for Hurst at the table. We encourage him when he feels up for it.”

The original committee traveled to Hutchinson, Kan., to make a presentation to convince the NJCAA to bring its national baseball tournament to Grand Junction.

Grand Junction first received it on a trial basis and was then awarded a five-year contract.

Otto, who was the director of the Grand Junction Parks Improvement Advisory Board for 23 years, served mostly on the team hosts sub-committee, which organizes the service clubs with the teams to help the teams get around Grand Junction and find things to do with down time.

“I’m honored to say the least,” Otto said of his opportunity to serve on the JUCO Committee. “I enjoyed it. There have been some amazing changes.”

Local businesses were the first team hosts before the service clubs got involved.

Redlands Mesa Lions Club has participated as a host for 40 years, Otto said.

The service clubs routinely spend thousands of dollars entertaining the teams with trips over Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa and hosting team barbecues or picnics.

“I never heard a complaint” from the coaches about their treatment, Otto said.

Otto has seen committee members come and go and believes the tournament is heading in the right direction under the leadership of current chairman Jamie Hamilton.

“I can’t say enough about Jamie and Bruce Hill,” Otto said. “They are two terrific leaders. They go all out. I can say that for the rest of the committee.”

Now, Grand Junction has a 25-year contract with the NJCAA to host the World Series. The proceeds from the tournament throughout that contract will help pay for stadium improvements that begin the week after this year’s tournament.

Another committee member, Tex Tolman, won’t be involved with the tournament as much this year because of job commitments, but plans to return next year.

“I’ve been doing this since 1973,” Tolman said. “When I first started taking care of the field. It wasn’t until 1980 when I was actually on the committee. Bus Bergman asked me to take care of the field.

“I remember when they started with 10 teams in 1977. They tried to get five games in one day.”

Tolman has been in charge of the practice schedules and the practice fields for more than 30 years.

“We’re trying to get Tex to not work so hard on the practice field,” Hamilton said. “Tex found a guy in Kenny Johnson with his youth and enthusiasm (to take over at the practice field).

“Tex can be an ambassador to him. That area (practice fields) is a key ingredient to how this operates. Coaches already have pressure and when practice doesn’t go well, it’s additional pressure. When things go well, it is so much more calm.”


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