The Area Code Games actually have a pretty cool history to them. Before we get to the final day of action, here is a quick look at how the games evolved, StitchHeads…
Way way way back when the Area Code Games first began, they were held in Lodi, California, which is up North in the San Joaquin Valley and is also the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World.” The idea for a one-stop shop to showcase top-flight high school talents came from the brain of former MLB scout Bob Williams. The first year of the ACG was in 1987 and teams really were formed according to the players area codes, but only involved players in the state of California.
In 1990, the games expanded to a national scale and brought the best players from around the country.
And since it’s inception, 12 Area Code alums have gone on to become the first overall MLB draft pick. They are…
- Phil Nevin, Cal State Fullerton, 1989 alum
- Pat Burrell, Miami, 1994 alum
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1999 alum
- Delmon Young, 1999 alum
- Matt Bush, 2003 alum
- Justin Upton, 2003 alum
- Tim Beckham, 2003 alum
- Gerrit Cole, 2007 alum
- Bryce Harper, 2008 alum
- Mark Appel, 2008 alum
- Brady Aiken, 2012 alum
- Mickey Moniak, 2015 alum
- Royce Lewis, 2016 alum
A couple more Area Code Games tidbits:
- The 2005 ACG had some particularly interesting participants including footballers Toby Gerhart and Colin Kaepernick. On the pitching side of things, Clayton Kershaw also played here that year
- Along with Gerhart and Kaepernick, Desean Jackson and Russell Wilson are also famous footballers who played in the Area Code Games.
- In 2011, New Balance became the official title sponsor of the ACG, giving the games a much needed financial boost.
- Also in 2011, the big boys from Bristol took notice and ESPN 3 finally became involved in televising one day of the games. Thanks to the now-defunct ESPNRise, their cameras followed suit each year here in Long Beach until 2015. The last two years, ASBN took over and stream three days of action.
- Before Blair Field became the home choice for the Area Code Games, it spent one summer at Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego in 1997. But moving it to its permanent home in Long Beach was probably the best choice of any the higher-ups have made about the Area Code Games.
- We still have to be thankful for Long Beach being the headquarters for the ACG. Thursday’s first game may have started at a ghastly 8:00am local time, which to me borders on cruelty, HOWEVER it was played in 68 degree temperatures with partly cloudy skies. When the morning marine layer finally cleared out, the eventual high temp was 82 degrees with clear skies.
Compare that with Lodi, California, which had a high temperature of 95 degrees on Thursday.
Here is how the final day of games played out and who became the King of the Area Code Games…
Rangers – 5
Royals – 4
This game started at 8am Pacific time. I am pretty sure you guys know that I was still sleeping. But the Rangers got 2.0 innings of good work on the mound by Chris Weber (Texas A&M commit) and Max Marusak (Texas Tech commit) added a double and an RBI with two stolen bases to pace the offense. The Texas-based Rangers finished the week with a 2-3 mark, just in case you’re keeping track.
Athletics – 8
Royals – 3
The A’s wrapped up a 3-2 week by taking a breezy win over the Royals. Brennan Rozell (Long Beach commit) paced the A’s with two runs batted in as part of a 2-for-2 day. The Royals lost for the second time in a six-hour period and finish the week with a 1-3-1 mark. That’s what you call a bad morning.
Yankees. – 001 010 0 – 2 6 1
Nationals – 100 200 0 – 3 5 1
We will rock you. We are the champions.
The South has risen again. The Southeastern-based Nationals claimed the rather lowly-coveted Area Code Games championship with a narrow escape win over the Northeast-based Yankees 3-2 here at Blair Field on a sun-splashed afternoon in Long Beach.
The game featured a showdown between the two teams that sported 3-1 won/loss marks for the week, so this one was winner-take-all going in.
The Nats took advantage of a few Yankee blunders including a costly fielding error and a mental lapse that allowed for the winning run to race home from second base on an everyday grounder.
Each team got on the board early on as the mercurial Jarrett Ford (FIU commit) slashed a leadoff double and was knocked in on a Korey Holland (Texas commit) groundout three batters into the first inning. The Yankees came back in the third as Kyle Hess (a Pitt commit… yes, that rhymes) led the inning off with a walk, then stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. Two batters later Mike Siani (Virginia commit) hit an RBI groundout to score Hess.
The Nats would take the lead in the fourth inning on a little bit of a bizarre play. With men at second and third, Nick Zona (uncommitted) hit a bouncer toward short that he showcased his burning speed, outracing the throw in a nick of time.
That would easily score Korey Holland from third base. But what caught the Yankees by surprise was the fact that Anthony Seigler (Auburn commit) never stopped running around third and ended up scoring all the way from second base, plating two runs on an infield single. Three to one, Nationals.
The Yanks would mount a threat in the fifth inning and even plate a run to pull within 3-2. But the big faux pas for the pinstripers was, with men on first and second, Mike Siani drilled a shot down the right field line. But the runners, Kyle Hess and Jeremiah Jackson (Mississippi State commit) had to hold up a bit to see if Nats right fielder Jarrett Ford would make the catch.
Well he didn’t, so Siani and Jackson were nearly neck and neck rounding the base paths. When Jackson rounded third, the third base coach put up a late “stop” sign for him. Meanwhile Siani was still steaming toward third without stopping. That left him and Jackson both in no-man’s land on either side of the bag.
After a pickle with Jackson, he was nabbed midway down the third base line. In the end, that could’ve been the game-tying run.
The Yanks wouldn’t go away quietly, loading the bases in the seventh and final inning with the help of two walks and a single, but cleanup hitter Grant Levigne (Wake Forest commit) would end up meekly popping up to third, ending the game and given the ACG title to the Nationals.
THE ALL-HAIR TEAM
Hair. That’s something I’m really jealous of, obviously. Unfortunately there weren’t as many wildly-maned players at the ACG this year, but here are some of the better coifed dudes from this week in Long Beach…