Baseball
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If the initial response to the July 21-25 competition is any indication, the tournament with 13U, 14U, 15U and 17U/18U divisions will be a home run.

Josh Birnberg and Matt Sandles have given travel baseball teams something to look forward to next summer.

Matt Sandles
Matt Sandles Elijah Scott

The friends have organized the inaugural Motor City Classic. If the initial response to the July 21-25 competition is any indication, the tournament with 13U, 14U, 15U and 17U/18U divisions will be a home run.

“Our original goal was 200 teams. In less than three weeks, we signed up 115 teams,” said Birnberg, the West Bloomfield High School baseball coach and coach of the 18U DBacks Elite travel baseball team.

Only one Canadian team, from Ontario, had registered as of Dec. 8, most likely because of the COVID-19 ban on nonessential travel between the U.S. and Canada.

Teams from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have registered.

“Our expectations have been blown out of the water,” said Sandles, who was the coach of the 18U Michigan Jets travel baseball team for five years and has been organizing travel baseball tournaments for seven years.

Josh Birnberg
Josh Birnberg Wendy Birnberg

From 25 to 30 fields in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties will be used for the Motor City Classic. Seven fields have been confirmed already, including diamonds at Oakland University, Northville High School and West Bloomfield High School.

“It’s best to have one field for every six teams in a tournament,” Birnberg said.

Birnberg is a West Bloomfield resident. Sandles lives in Novi.

“We’ve been talking about putting together a tournament like this for a few years,” Birnberg said. “We have some extra time on our hands because of the pandemic, so we thought we’d make good use of it.”

There’s a five-game guarantee (weather permitting) for each division of the Motor City Classic except 13U, which has a three-game guarantee (weather permitting).

Schedules and rosters will be sent to college baseball coaches and pro baseball scouts. The champion and runner-up in each division will receive individual and team awards.

Fee is $575 per team for the 13U division. It’s $1,250 per team for the other divisions, with a $250 discount for early signups with a $50 deposit by Jan. 1.

Birnberg can be reached at (248) 303-6732 or CoachJoshBirnberg@gmail.com. Sandles can be reached at (248) 752-8185 or Novisandles@aol.com.

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