High School Wood Bat Event Postponed

The Baseball America/Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship was postponed late Tuesday because of ongoing relief efforts in southeast Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.

The tournament, usually attended by 1,200 players and 400 college
coaches and professional scouts, was scheduled to begin today and run
through Monday. Instead, it has been rescheduled for Nov. 17-21.

The tourney’s home is Roger Dean Stadium, the spring training site
of the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. The complex sustained
minor structural and flood damage Monday when the hurricane swept
across the state. Some hotels and businesses in the area were still
without power 24 hours before the tournament was originally scheduled
to begin.

The tournament was shaping up as one of the year’s best high school
scouting events. Some major league clubs anticipated sending multiple
national and area scouts to the eighth annual event, and more than 200
college coaches had registered.

The postponement presents a problem for college coaches in
particular. The NCAA in 2003 implemented a dead period in its
recruiting calendar from the Friday of the week of the fall signing
period through the month of February, when it is not permissible to
make in-person recruiting contacts or evaluations on or off college
campuses. In 2005, this period begins Nov. 18, the first full day of
the rescheduled tournament.

“The biggest problem is that the rule is only two years old, so
there’s no precedent for (exceptions due to natural disasters),” said
Perfect Game president Jerry Ford.

According to Ford, at least one college compliance officer has filed
a waiver with the NCAA to request an extension of the evaluation
period, which would allow college coaches to attend the tournament
without violating NCAA rules. Ford, who conferred with the American
Baseball Coaches Association about the recruiting calendar, said he
spoke with NCAA member services personnel Wednesday and indicated a
decision could be made by Friday.

“I hope that they make an exception,” Georgia Tech head coach Danny
Hall said. “Not only is that an important event for those players that
haven’t signed and might have slipped under the radar a little bit, but
it’s also a good time to see the young guys and get an early start on
next year.”

Contributing: Will Kimmey.