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.