SHELBY -- The Banquet of Champions and a concert are providing the final preliminary events to Friday’s start of the annual American Legion World Series, returning this year to Shelby.
Opening-round games in the double-elimination tournament are Friday, with eight regional champions playing over a five-day period at Keeter Stadium. Last year’s tournament drew an American Legion World Series record of 86,000 tickets sold.
Thursday’s preliminaries included the Banquet of Champions, held at the LeGrand Center in Shelby. During the luncheon, a commemorative painting was unveiled -- the first such piece of artwork for the American Legion World Series. The painting, titled “Honor Amidst Young Dreams,” done by Mary Sparrow, will hang permanently at the LeGrand Center.
Later on Thursday’s schedule was a concert at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, featuring country music artists Montgomery Gentry.
The eight participants in this year’s World Series are Florence, S.C.; Bellevue, Wash.; Brooklawn, N.J.; Lakewood, Calif.; Milford, Conn.; Moline, Ill.; New Orleans; and Omaha. The team from Florence won the Southeast Regional, defeating Wilmington in the finals.
The 2011 champion was Eden Prairie, Minn., which beat Tupelo, Miss., 5-4 in the finals.
Friday’s first-round schedule:
Lakewood, Calif. (Western champion) vs. Omaha (Central Plains), 9:30 a.m.
Bellevue, Wash. (Northwest) vs. Moline, Ill. (Great Lakes), 1 p.m.
Milford, Conn. (Northeast) vs. New Orleans (Mid-South), 5 p.m.
Florence, S.C. (Southeast) vs. Brooklawn, N.J. (Mid-Atlantic), 8:30 p.m.