The Mickey Mantle Wooden Bat Classic will mark its 20th year Thursday to Saturday, April 4 to 6.
“The Mickey Mantle Classic has built a solid tradition in promoting the game of baseball and celebrating the legacy of hometown Hall of Fame great Mickey Mantle,” tournament director Brian Waybright said in a release.
Mantle’s sons, David and Danny, and Jim Gentile are the special guests.
Gentile will throw out the first pitch Saturday afternoon then will be on hand for a meet-and-greet immediately afterwards.
The Mantle brothers were on hand for the first tournament in 2000, which included the dedication of Mickey Mantle Field.
Their mother, Merlyn Mantle, and former Yankee great Bobby Richardson, also were on hand.
Other guests from the past have been Johnny Blanchard, Don Larsen, Bob Turley, Tom Tresh, Goose Gossage, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Rollie Fingers, Graig Nettles, Willie Wilson, Gaylord Perry, Andre Dawson, Bob Shirley, Ron Guidry, Bret Saberhagen and Bucky Dent.
The tournament has grown from one division to three over the years.
Grove, which won the tournament in its first year, is part of the 18-team field.
The Ridgerunners are one of nine teams in the 2019 field that has won at least one Mantle title.
The others are Miami, Wyandotte, Tahlequah Sequoyah, Commerce, Fort Gibson, Quapaw, Haskell and Neosho, Missouri.
The Bears have won the tournament four times while Sequoyah and Fort Gibson have taken home the trophy bat three times each.
Four times championship games have not been played, including last year when snow wiped out the Comet and Triple Crown Division finals.
The entire tournament was wiped out in 2008 by rainy weather.
Others in the field this year include Afton, Welch, Fairland, the Grove JV, and four other Missouri teams: Diamond, East Newton, the Neosho JV, Sarcoxie and McDonald County.
The tournament takes on a new look as all 18 pool games will be played Thursday and Friday at Mantle Field and at Joe Becker Field in Joplin.
Then on Saturday, Mantle and Becker fields will be used, as well as Wendell Redden Field in the Joplin Sports Complex.
In other new wrinkles, there will be a third division — Miner — and the Mantle brothers will present the Courage Award.
Mantle endured the injuries of pain throughout his illustrious career. His quality of courage earned the respect of his teammates and peers.
Despite the countless injuries, he still became the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the legends of the game.
Bats used in the tournament will include the classic logo and an image of Mantle.
Broken bats are sold as souvenirs for $25 each.
Only 12 dated and numbered bats are sold each year for $100 each.
No. 1 of the 12 will given at the tournament in a drawing and No. 7 will be one of the auction items at the awards banquet, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at First Christian Church in Miami. There also will be silent auction items.
Tickets for the banquet are $25 each or can be purchased at the tournament for $20.
Admission for tournament games is $4 for adults and $2 for students.