CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. -- All the pomp, the preparation, for a few days of play; the American Legion World Series is a lot of work.
“We have about 600-700 volunteers who volunteer every year. Everything from cleaning up the stadium, to parking, to taking up tickets,” said World Series finance committee chairman Robby Reynolds.
It's a far cry from where they started.
“The American Legion baseball program had fallen off a good bit, back in the late 80s and the early 90s,” Reynolds said.
The series has really rounded the bases since Shelby picked it up, Reynolds said. It's now the permanent home.
“We've got a waiting list for almost every committee now, so it means a lot to the people here,” he said.
Teams like Coach Jay Hickey's from Connecticut make long trips.
“It was longer because of the delay in Baltimore,” he said.
They fill up hotels to capacity.
“I don't know how many they are, but they're all booked," said Reynolds. "All the ones in Shelby are booked. I understand the ones in Kings Mountain are booked.”
It's the highlight of the year for the teams.
“Yeah, you can just see from the players how excited they are, what an atmosphere Shelby puts on here, the committee and the town,” Hickey said.
“We'll do it any day of the week again just to get back down here,” said second baseman Phillip Dickinson from New Jersey.
“This is just home to us. We've been here the past four years in a row. Everybody, the way people treat us here in Shelby, it's just an amazing experience for us,” he said.
According to the Cleveland County chamber, they'll spend about $1.4 million. And concession profits go right to local businesses.
It may not sound like much, but for Shelby, it's a game worth playing.
The American Legion World Series will play three games a day through Tuesday, when the top two teams will play live on ESPN U.