Beast of the East under way

ELM GROVE – Organizers of the Edgar Martin Beast of the East Baseball Classic have their bases covered.

Proof of this could be seen Wednesday at the Elm Grove Civics, headquarters for the 26th annual event, which began this morning at fields up and down the Ohio Valley and Western Pennsylvania.

The Civics is the hub of the four-day, Independence Day weekend staple. And it was certainly a beehive of activity one day before action started.

On one side of the Civics, John Pastorius and his son, Justin, were getting the computers set up to track the schedule of games and their results. In another part of the room, Joe Doerr was ready to hand out T-shirts and other items.

In the kitchen, members of the Civics were hard at work preparing food and other delicacies hungry team members and fans will be craving once the first pitch is thrown.

Then, in the front door, came a man delivering one of the tournament’s most precious commodities – bottled water.

Beside him near the entrance, tournament co-director, and former West Liberty baseball coach, Bo McConnaughy, was on the phone with someone nailing down last-minute details.

And, just inside the door, Ken Campanizzi was registering the Roc Hawks, a team from Pittsburgh playing in the 19U Division.

Tim Loper, there checking in the squad along with Carol Joyce, said it’s the third time the team has played in the Beast.

”There’s very high-quality baseball here,” he said. ”I think this a fantastic tournament and it’s exciting for the kids.”

The Roc Hawks started their portion of the Beast with a game at Martins Ferry High School this morning before heading to Cadiz for a game at Mazeroski Park this afternoon.

Loper has always been impressed by the Beast’s quality of play.

”It’s well-run, well-organized and it really brings us to the mind of professional baseball by the way the kids are treated.

”The kids love it here.”

Loper said he’s had some experience organizing smaller tournaments and has been amazed with how smooth Beast officials make things go.

”This is A+ the way things are run,” he said.

The reason for that is the folks McConnaughy and fellow co-director B.A. Crawford have brought in through the years to help. Many of them have been along for the ride the whole way.

”I just love baseball,” Doerr said.

A lifelong friend of McConnaughy’s, Doerr was a member of West Liberty’s 1964 NAIA national championship team that featured Lansing’s own Joe Niekro.

”I’ve been helping here for about 10 years or so,” Doerr, a Chicago Cubs draftee, said. ”I make sure the teams get their T-shirts and stuff. (Today), I’ll go keep score at a few places. I’ll go up to Wheeling Park (High School) and keep score.

”I don’t have too much to do. They have the tough job over there.”

Over there is where all the laptops sit. That’s where the Pastorius’ keep track of all the games and the results.

Crawford looked on with amazement, and a bit of a smile, as the computers whirled in preparation for the games. The Beast has come a long way from writing the results out by hand and reporting them to the media, etc.

”Along the way, we knew we had something good and it just kept growing,” said Crawford, the retired Wheeling businessman.

Crawford and McConnaughy have cut back on their involvement in the Beast in recent years, but they’re merely delegating more things to the younger generation that Crawford said will have to take it over one day.

The duo’s presence is as a strong as ever.

”The people are what make this possible,” Crawford said.