Connie Mack World Series ready to take center stage at Ricketts Park

FARMINGTON — Connie Mack World Series Tournament Chairman Mark Varley is acutely aware of the pressure he’s under as the city of Farmington prepares to host the Connie Mack World Series again this week.

Varley, who serves the first two-year post as general chairman of the tournament, remembers that pressure every day.

“The volume of phone calls and inquiries about the event is staggering,” Varley said. “And in some ways that can be overwhelming, but it also reminds me of how important the show is for so many people.”

Varley, owner of Digital Communications, a local telecommunications equipment provider, took over as overall tournament chairman after Tyson Snyder’s run ended with the conclusion of the 2021 series. the busiest these days are ticket sales and fans hoping to be on the front lines.

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“We’re still working on bugs in the online system,” Varley admitted. “But we are in good shape and anyone who wants a ticket can rest assured they will get it.”

Varley played and coached baseball for much of his life. His professional resume includes coaching jobs at Santa Rita High School in Tucson, Arizona, as well as the University of Arizona. Her personal experience with the Connie Mack World Series dates back to her days as a runner for the concession stands at tournament games.

“I’ve been in baseball since I was a kid,” Varley said. “I love the sport and have been involved with the FABC for several years, including helping the riders’ committee find kids to be riders for games.”

From there, Varley was called upon to do more based on his experience in the telecommunications field.

“I was approached to go work in the press box to upgrade the technology for the show,” Varley said. “That included updating streaming, rating online, finding ways to engage more and more people.”

Ricketts Park, which underwent a massive series of renovations before and after the pandemic, has become a hotspot for even more technological advancements. Thanks to the addition of fiber optic cabling, which was installed during the renovation, the stadium is well suited to be connected to telecommunications centers around the world.

“A lot of people don’t know that Ricketts Park has a fiber optic backbone, so the chances of it ever being technologically obsolete are slim to none,” Varley said. “That’s why we were able to get the exposure we were looking for.”

Now, with the CMWS Championship game to be broadcast live by the CBS sports network when played on Saturday, July 30, Varley knows the extra technology will come in handy.

“We exceeded the standards that CBS required of us in order to make the broadcast possible,” Varley said. “We’ve had a really good idea over the past few years of how big this tournament really is,” Varley said. “We have seen that there are people watching and getting updates on matches from Europe and South America, so it is absolutely necessary that the game is broadcast live on national television.”

One of the pressing challenges for the upcoming tournament is the continued need for host families. Earlier this year, the Connie Mack World Series Committee announced a $250 incentive for local families hosting series participants.

“Every year is always a challenge, but the high cost of everything has made this year even more difficult,” Varley said. “We offered the incentive, and while it’s just a little help for those wanting to gift their home, we knew it was something that needed to be done.”

Varley said that even with days before the start of the series, people can still sign up to participate in the homestay program.

“We’ll take families until the last minute,” Varley said. “There are already so many people in the community who have opened their arms and their homes for these children, and it’s very encouraging.”

As for the games themselves, Varley noted the impressive number of teams from the southwest corner of the country. Five teams will represent Texas State, while four other teams will come from New Mexico and California. Only the Ohio Midland Baseball Team and the Florida Legends make the road trip to Farmington from east of the Mississippi River, while the South Gulf Elite Squad The team arrives from Hammond, Louisiana.

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“It’s baseball country here,” Varley said. “Of course we would have liked another team from another part of the country, but those are the areas that focus on getting into our tournament and that’s why they are here. They take the time and focus their effort in our direction.”

The 505 Panthers, who clinched the CMWS host team title by winning the City League tournament last week, are scheduled to play twice on Friday to open the pool play competition. According to the tournament schedule posted on their website, the Panthers will face an opponent yet to be determined at 1:30 p.m. at the Farmington Sports Complex. After that game, the Panthers will host Dallas’ D-Bat United at 7 p.m. at Ricketts Park.

Teams are expected to arrive at Farmington Civic Center throughout the day Wednesday, with the annual Connie Mack World Series Parade set to begin in downtown Farmington Thursday at 10 a.m. For more schedules and updated tournament materials, check the official website on CMWS.org.