FARMINGTON — As Farmington prepares to host its 50th Connie Mack World Series, organizers are preparing both new and old events to mark the milestone anniversary.
The parade kicks off the tournament on Friday morning, and the first games are scheduled that evening, as well as the opening ceremonies and the Hall of Fame inductions, said Kim Carpenter, president and chairman of the Connie Mack World Series.
"This year, something new is we will unveil a new mascot at the opening ceremony," Carpenter said.
Also new this year, all of the games will be streamed online and a Jumbotron at Farmington's Ricketts Park will capture the action at the field. Running the live stream is Coaches Aid, a broadcast service organization that produces amateur sports nationwide.
The Jumbotron, measuring 17 feet high and 25 feet wide, will provide instant replays during the games. Advertising dollars the series has generated covered the cost of the giant TV, Carpenter said.
As is tradition, a parade welcomes the 10 teams to the World Series. Floats represent each team, as well as groups and businesses in the area.
"The parade is the first chance the community gets to welcome the teams to Farmington and where fans kind of decide what teams they are going to cheer for," said Kacie Nelson, the parade organizer. "Each team has their own float that's made by different groups who try to make each float unique."
On Friday evening, former Major League Baseball players Jose Guzman and Darrell Evans are scheduled to throw out the first pitch of the series' first game at 5:15 p.m. During the course of the eight-day tournament, 19 games are scheduled, concluding with the championship on Aug. 8.
The opening ceremony takes place after the first game. Along with the introduction of the new mascot, Mack, a parachute team will jump into the stadium, and this year's Hall of Fame inductees will be announced.
This year's class of inductees includes two locals, Aztec native Larry Harlow and Farmington High School graduate Duane Ward, who both went on to successful MLB careers. Ward won two World Series rings with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 and 1992. Harlow was a member of the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels from 1975 to 1981.
Joining Harlow and Ward will be Tony Muser, the first player from the series' time in Farmington to go on to play in the MLB, National Baseball Hall of Fame member Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr.
Harlow, Muser and Griffey have confirmed they will attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Larkin, who has a previous engagement overseas, will miss the event, and Ward's attendance has not been confirmed.
Also on Friday, a firework show is scheduled during the top of the fourth inning of the second game, which will begin after the opening ceremony concludes.
More events continue on Sunday. Starting at 2 p.m. is a home run derby, followed by the coaches skills competition. Admission for Sunday's events is free, and 50-cent hot dogs will be sold throughout the day in honor of the series' 50th anniversary.
As for tickets, Carpenter said they are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
"People have to show up the day of to see what's available," Carpenter said. "We're always sold out, but general admission tickets and some reserved tickets are available, but they really just need to go to the ticket booth on opening day to see what's available."
The Connie Mack World Series came to Farmington in 1965 after a small delegation of Farmington businessmen travelled to the American Amateur Baseball Congress' annual meeting in Chicago to bid on the series. The bid was successful, and, every year since then, the tournament has returned to Farmington.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary, the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park is opening the exhibit "Knocking it out of the Park: Celebrating 50 years of Connie Mack." The exhibit focuses on the tournament's history in Farmington and on the people who played key roles in its success.
"The whole town gets involved, and we get a lot of volunteers," said Sarah Adams, the museum's collections manager. "Everyone knows about the tournament itself, but maybe they don't know who was involved to make it happen. It was a big deal to even get the tournament, and to keep it for 50 years is amazing. It's pretty much a Farmington staple now. And that's why we kind of wanted to focus on the community, because if we didn't have the people that were dedicated like that, and even now, it wouldn't happen."