HAMMOND | You can't blow off Doyle Godbolt for too long.
Godbolt is the executive director and marketing coordinator for the Cal Ripken 2013 Major/60 (12-and-under) World Series, to take place Aug. 9-16 at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex.
Godbolt and company have already procured major sponsorship from WJOB, NIPSCO, EMCOR Hyre Electric, Region Pools, Inc., Gil Behling and Sons, South Shore Visitors Center and The Times Media Center.
But there's always room for more.
"That's why I'm going to (a political fundraiser) tonight," Godbolt said. "Corner some people who haven't returned my calls and emails. It may be better to approach them with cocktails in their hands."
Though warmer weather has been late in arriving, Godbolt said that they're on pace in preparation for the event hosted by the City of Hammond, the Optimist Club of Hammond, and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., who will manage the HOYS 12U Bulldogs. As the host team, the Bulldogs get an automatic bid for the World Series.
"The Northern Indiana state champion will also get an automatic bid," Godbolt said. "There will be 10 teams here from across the country, and we're guaranteed to have two from the area."
All teams will play four pool-play games during the first five days of the series. "Each team will have a day off during some point in the span," Godbolt said.
The top three teams from each of the five pool-play division will be placed in a single-elimination bracket.
"They did away with double-elimination ... teams and their families used to be sent home after one day," Godbolt said. "People are going to be here all week.
"This is a big deal. Big deal for the City of Hammond. Big deal for the region."
Godbolt became a youth baseball volunteer while he was still a youth baseball player.
"I started coaching when I was 16 years old," said Godbolt, who still coaches and is the vice president of the South Hammond Babe Ruth League.
"I have a passion for the game, and I love seeing children and young adults succeed."
Godbolt has been involved with HOYS in one way or another since its Woodmar Baseball League origins.
"Shortly after we moved here (the HOYS Complex), we merged with Edison Softball and became Hammond Optimist Youth Sports (in 2005)," Godbolt said. "We now have about 600 kids in the league."
Some time before the merger, Woodmar Baseball was among the first leagues in the area to break away from Little League.
"(Cal Ripken) gives leagues more autonomy during the regular season," Godbolt said, "but they do control postseason play."
The Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series moves to different sites around the country every year.
"Major/60 uses Little League baseball dimensions and rules with the 60-feet basepaths, 46-feet pitching distance and no leadoffs," Godbolt said. "Major/70 is different with 70-feet basepaths, 50-feet pitching distance and base runners don't have to wait for the ball to reach the catcher before taking off.
"Some Cal Ripken leagues choose Major/70. For those leagues, their World Series will be in Aberdeen, Maryland, where it's always held."