Shawnee State University will host the 2018 annual Gene Bennett Baseball Classic (GBBC) starting Thursday and continuing through June 17.
Formed in 2010 by local businessman Jeff Brown, famed travel ball coach Ron Slusher, and former SSU baseball head coach Ted Tom, the GBBC is an event which honors the legendary legacy of the esteemed Major League Baseball (MLB) scout Gene Bennett.
Bennett is a Scioto County native who graduated from Wheelersburg High School and went on to play for the Cincinnati Reds from 1952 to 1957, and then became a scout for the Reds in 1958. During his scouting career, Bennett signed notable players, including Barry Larkin, Don Gullett, Paul O’Neill and Chris Sabo, to professional contracts. His scouting expertise was an integral part in guiding the Reds to four World Series appearances in the 1970s, including two World Series crowns during the golden age of the “Big Red Machine,” and a World Series title in 1990 with Larkin, O’Neill and Sabo at the center of the team’s work.
Bennett’s efforts as a scout have earned him inductions into the Middle Atlantic Major League Baseball Scouts (1996) and the Wheelersburg High School Athletics Hall of Fame (2001). He was also awarded the Legends of Scouting Award for his six loyal decades of work with the Reds in January 2009.
The classic is held annually during the second week of June, and routinely attracts the best amateur teams and players across the United States. Teams from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas and West Virginia, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario have all made appearances at the GBBC. In addition to honoring Bennett’s accomplishments and contributions to the sport of baseball, the classic serves as a way to elevate and inspire the youth, promote community development and bring baseball back to the Tri-State area.
This year, 15 teams will visit the Portsmouth region for four days of baseball. The GBBC Opening Ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Branch Rickey Park. The GBBC will consist of games played throughout the day on Thursday and Friday, while games played on Saturday and Sunday will be played according to tournament format. Each time will be seeded according to their record for single-elimination games. The GBBC is a wood bat tournament with seven inning games, and a 10-run rule will apply to all games.
Teams will play at various fields in the area, including Branch Rickey Park, Portsmouth High School, Cannonsburg (Ky.) Boyd County High School, Wheelersburg High School, Valley High School and Russell (Ky.) High School.
Admission is free during the four-day classic.
For more information, including a full listing of game schedules and directions to the fields, visit www.shawnee.edu/gene-bennett-classic/ or contact Chris Moore, GBBC tournament director and head coach of the SSU baseball program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-351-3537.
Further details about the Gene Bennett Baseball Classic will be included in an upcoming edition of The Daily Times.