FARMINGTON — Beth and Kyle Tyson and their children held up brightly colored signs on Thursday as they welcomed the Connie Mack World Series baseball players to Farmington.
The Tysons joined dozens of Farmington residents in cheering and waving as buses packed with baseball players drove up to the Farmington Civic Center — accompanied by a police escort — to register for the tournament. At the civic center, players also met their host families for the week-long series, which marks 50 years in Farmington this summer.
For six years, the Tysons have served as host families for players. They housed players from the Florida Legends for four of those years, but the Legends haven't made it to the series since 2012.
"We miss our Miami kids," Beth Tyson said.
Over the years, the family has stayed in touch with the Miami players they have hosted.
"It's nice because when we get to go to Florida, we have someone to stay with," said 13-year-old Madeline Tyson.
With the Legends missing the series for the last couple of years, the Tysons have been hosting the Frozen Ropes, a team that hails from McKinney, Texas.
"It's a great group of kids," Beth Tyson said. "Good role models for the kids. They become big brothers quickly."
She said the athletes often play catch with her son, Connor, 10.
Also on Thursday, Kurt Nelson — whose son, Brock, plays for the Frozen Ropes — waited at the civic center for teams to arrive. His son has been playing baseball for 10 years to prepare for the Connie Mack World Series, he said.
"We hear this is the biggest and greatest thing to do at this age," Kurt Nelson said.
A bus soon arrived, and players with the Midland Redskins stepped out. Dancers with Farmington High School's Kelly Greens and athletes from Aztec High School led the Cincinnati-based team into the civic center.
Mariah Vargas, 14, was among the Kelly Greens waiting to escort the baseball team inside. She said she hopes Midland wins the series, partly because her family hosts players from the team. And then she took one of the athlete's arms and led him inside, chatting on the way in.
"We ask them how their flight was, what position they play and how they are," she said. "Just small talk."
This marks the Redskins' 24th consecutive Connie Mack World Series appearance. The team has won the title 14 times.
"It's the greatest amateur tournament in the world," said Midland Redskins Coach Dave Evans.
About an hour after Midland's arrival, the host team, Strike Zone Baseball, drove up to register for the series.
Strike Zone's Austin Davis, 19, picked up a bag of goodies from Natalie Spruell, a city employee helping the athletes register. Davis said he grew up watching the series and always wanted to play in it. He is excited to play during the last year he is eligible for the series.
He said he is looking forward to the atmosphere of the series and the enthusiasm of the crowd.
"I'm just going to soak up every second of it," he said.