The Juneau Sports Association's Rainball Invitational softball tournament will celebrate its silver anniversary when the 25th annual tournament opens tonight at Dimond and Savikko parks.
The tournament, which is one of the biggest softball gatherings in Southeast Alaska, has grown immensely since Behrend's Department Store won the first men's title in 1976, when the tournament only had one division. A women's division was added in 1977, with Louie's Ladies winning, and now there are five divisions in all - three for men and two for women.
``This is a big one (tournament) for Juneau,'' JSA executive director Dave Pusich said. ``A lot of out-of-town teams come up for this one. We've got nine teams from out of town this year - six from Sitka and one each from Ketchikan, Petersburg and Whitehorse (Yukon Territory).''
Last year's men's champions were Mount Juneau Trading Post for Level I, Copy Express for Level II and Pinheads for Level III. The women's champions were Imperial Saloon for Level I and Capital Office Supply for Level II.
Games start at 5:50 p.m. tonight at both fields, and action continues all day Saturday and all day Sunday. The upper-level men's games and some of the top-level women's games on Saturday will take place at Dimond Park, while the majority of the women's games and the Level III men's games will be at Savikko Park. All of the championship and if-necessary games, which start at 11 a.m. and later Sunday, will take place at Dimond Park. An awards ceremony will take place at Tabby's after the last championship or if-necessary game ends, at about 3:30-4 p.m. Pusich said.
``We're trying to get more people involved, because of the silver anniversary, and a lot of merchants have donated prizes,'' Pusich said. ``Each game MVP will get a special shirt this year, as well as the first-place teams.''
People planning to attend the games at Dimond Park should be prepared to park away from the fields and walk to the softball diamonds. There are construction projects at the park and there will also be crowds from the Gold Rush Days events using the same parking lots.
A schedule of games can be found by clicking on the Juneau Sports Association's site, http://ww w.jsaweb.org .