VERSAILLES – More than 40 youth baseball teams competed in the Versailles Youth Baseball Association’s Craig Stammen Classic this past weekend throughout Versailles.
The tournament included teams from Anna, Ansonia, Celina, Coldwater, Fort Loramie, Minster, Parkway, Piqua, Russia, St. Henry, Troy and Versailles in 8U, 9U, 10U, 11U, 12U and 14U tournaments. Games were held at Heritage Park, Indian Creek Park, Ward Park, the Versailles High School baseball diamond, the Versailles High School softball diamond plus North Star Park in North Star.
The tournament was renamed the Craig Stammen Classic last year in honor of Versailles alumnus Craig Stammen, who now is a Major League Baseball player in the Cleveland Indians system.
Stammen wasn’t able to make it back home for the tournament like he did last year, but friends and family kept him informed by sending him pictures and videos all weekend.
“It’s just fun. I think back to when I was a kid if there were tournaments like that how much I would love to play in them,” the tournament’s namesake said Tuesday afternoon. “It was pretty neat to see how passionate and how serious they take the game and how well they play, too.”
Stammen wasn’t able to return home for the tournament because he’s in Goodyear, Arizona, rehabbing from a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm, which prematurely ended his season last year when he was pitching for the Washington Nationals. He’s taking it day by day but feeling confident about the progress he’s made.
“Right now it’s just exciting to be able to throw a baseball without pain,” Stammen said. “My arm is starting to feel quite a bit better, and I am on track to start pitching in games here pretty soon, maybe by the end of the week or next week.”
The Versailles graduate has been throwing off the mound and has thrown some live batting practice at the Indians’ facility in Goodyear. He was slated to pitch in his first simulated game of the year on Tuesday.
“It’s fun to feel myself being a little closer to 100 percent each time,” Stammen said.
Other than a week at the end of spring training when he got to visit home, Stammen has been in Arizona rehabbing since February. He’s kept track of the Indians, who are atop the American League Central Division, and hopes to be back to full strength by the end of the season to help them make a run at the playoffs.
“It’s exciting to watch them play and how well they’re playing,” Stammen said. “I’ll have to be at the top of my game just to get called up to play with them.”