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July 15, 2014

Johnstown AAABA Tournament loses Baltimore, Maryland State franchises for 2014

JOHNSTOWN — The All American Amateur Baseball Association Tournament figuratively hit into a double play on Tuesday.

This twin-killing hurts.

The 70th annual AAABA Tournament will proceed beginning on Aug. 4, as scheduled. But two traditional tournament franchises will be missing, including 29-time champion Baltimore, the defending champs, and Maryland State.

On Tuesday morning, Youse’s Maryland Orioles officially announced the Baltimore team wouldn’t defend its crown this year.

The news sent shockwaves through AAABA circles, via the Internet, social media and good old-fashioned, long-distance phone calls.

But the day wasn’t over yet. Tuesday afternoon, Maryland State announced it would not field a tournament team this year.

Instead of an expanded 18-team bracket to commemorate the 70th anniversary, the tournament now will go back to the traditional 16-team bracket.

“We’ll make it work,” said national AAABA President George Arcurio III, who also is president of the Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association which sponsors the tournament.

“Hopefully we will be back to normal next year,” Arcurio said. “We’ve got to start looking for some franchises and get back up to where we were.”

The AAABA Tournament has dealt with adversity through the years, overcoming the aftermath of the 1977 Flood, raising funds through recessions and difficult economic times, and dealing with franchises coming and going.

But losing the all-time winningest franchise in tournament history during the 70th anniversary year hurts both in the bracket and psychologically.

“It’s normal for the national tournament committee and AAABA to roll with the punches,” said Altoona’s John Austin, a AAABA national vice president. “We’ve got good people in positions on the national tournament committee, and they seem to be able to figure things out when we are down and out with situations like this. We’ll have our 16-team tournament and go from there.”

Baltimore could not meet a recently implemented rule requiring teams to have 10 players from their home state on the roster, Baltimore General Manager Dean Albany said.

“It’s a shame. It’s the 70th anniversary,” Albany said. “It’s no fault to anybody in Johnstown or the tournament committee. They’ve done their jobs right. We’d rather do it this way than try to come up to Johnstown with an illegal roster.

“We love the tournament. We want to be at the tournament,” he added. “I’m not saying we’re never coming back.”

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