After a year's hiatus, Big 26 Baseball Classic is set to return in 2021

FRANK PISCANI
Pocono Record (TNS)
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Following the trend of other spring and summer sports, the Big 26 Baseball Classic is making its comeback in 2021 after a one-year hiatus.

The three-game all-star series between Pennsylvania and Maryland's top high school baseball players offers rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to compete in front of college coaches and scouts.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a cancellation of last year's event, but now the Big 26 event is back in full force, with a July 22-24 date in place. It will be held in central Pennsylvania at FNB Field on Harrisburg’s City Island, the home of the double-A Senators.

"A single year away from an annual can feel more like 10 years," Hershey Harrisburg Sports and Events Authority executive director Gregg Cook said in a news release. "We are thrilled to bring this high school baseball all-star event back to City Island."

Even for student-athletes who don't make the team, the tryouts offer a chance to showcase their skills. They are run as a "pro-style workout," that college coaches and scouts are also invited to. The combine-style tryouts include a 60-yard dash, catcher pop time measurements, fielding exercises, pitcher throwing sessions and batting practice.

Universities with athletics programs at all levels have attended the event in past years. Past attendees included Pennsylvania state schools such as East Stroudsburg, Penn State and Pitt, as well as schools such as Maryland, Catholic University and Rider University.

Registration for tryouts is now open and closes for eastern Pennsylvania on Sunday, May 16. Tryouts for eastern Pennsylvania student-athletes will take place at Palmyra’s In the Net complex in Lebanon County on Sunday, May 23 at noon.

Interested players can sign up online at www.big26.com for a $149 registration fee.

The showcase series, which started in 2012, enters its eighth season after last year's cancellation. A transition in event ownership caused a suspension of play in 2017 also. Pennsylvania leads the all-time series 4-3.

The Pennsylvania coaches are Brian Fili (Strath Haven High School), Rick Harrison (Spring-Ford High School) and Kevin Manero (North Penn High School).