Spamtown Challenge nears

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It’ll be another tough field and another grueling four days for the Austin Greyhounds when they host the SPAMTown Challenge this coming weekend at Marcusen Park and the Riverland baseball complex.

The tournament kicks off Thursday when the Austin Blue Sox play the Chicago Wildcats at 6 p.m. at Marcusen and the Austin Greyhounds play the Chicago VeePak Hawks at approximately 8:30 p.m. There will be games throughout Friday and Saturday and the tournament’s title game will be 2 p.m. Sunday at Marcusen.

“Our first priority is to be good hosts,” Hounds manager John Frein said.

Email newsletter signup

“If we haven’t done that, we haven’t done our job. We want teams to have a good time against some good competition, and we want teams to want to come back.”

The tournament features 16 teams that will play in four pools, with the top team in each pool advancing to Sunday’s final four.

The Blue Sox are in a pool with Cold Spring, which won the SPAMTown Challenge last year, the Chicago, Ill. Wildcats and the Prescott, Wis. Pirates. The Hounds are in a pool with the St. Michael Saints, the Chicago, Ill. VeePak Hawks and the Brookings, S.D. Cubby’s.

“The VeePak Hawks are very respected in the Chicago Suburban League and they’re a high caliber program,” Frein said. “Vee-Pak could be the best team in the tourney, but if we beat them (Friday) we’ll have some confidence.”

There will be nine out-of-state teams and seven Minnesota teams in the challenge.

Some of the better squads are the two teams from Chicago, Minnetonka, Blaine, Jamestown, N.D., Peeskill, NY Tides, and the Omaha, Neb. Diamond Spirit.

But any team could be in the running for a title.

“It’s hard to say who the best team is,” Frein said. “Everyone in this tournament is solid. It all comes down to who’s playing well by week’s end.”

Frein encourages all Austin baseball fans to not just come out and watch the Austin teams, but to watch all of the talented teams that will be coming into town.

“People can get a hot dog and watch some unbelievable ball in their own backyard,” he said. “This is a legit tournament, and there will be some great teams in town. Teams love to come here and play at Marcusen Park and Dick Seltz Field. They get a lot out of their trip.”

It costs $7 for an all-tourney pass or $3 per game.

There will be concessions and a beer tent at all tournament games.

The Hounds started the challenge four years ago after having a bad experience at a tournament in Evansville, Ind.

“We weren’t quite satisfied with it, and we talked to some other teams who thought the same way,” Frein said. “We said let’s do this right and have a good tourney with good competition. The pool format works great because it guarantees every team has three meaningful games.”

The Hounds will post updates of the tourney on their Web Site at and results can also be found on