The Jamestown Babe Ruth World Series Committee has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to unique ideas. Just ask the staff at corporate headquarters in Trenton, N.J. They'll likely tell you that the back of Jamestown's figurative baseball card has had some all-star qualities, dating back to its first World Series in 1980.
The success of the host family program and the World Series training center.
These are a few of the many people who help make the World Series of Cars a success and they posed with three of the cars that will be on display. From left are Russell E. Diethrick Jr., Babe Ruth World Series Committee host president; Greg Palmer; Frank Tantillo, judging chairman; Howard Hendrickson, World Series of Cars treasurer; Dick Baus, registration chairman; Bruce Macey; John Bauer, Babe Ruth World Series Committee finance division chairman; Sam Ognibene; and Chuck Sinatra, World Series of Cars president.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
The use of a professional stadium - in this case Diethrick Park - in which to hold the tournament.
The parade through downtown Jamestown the morning of the first game.
And the size of its tournament-eve banquet at the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College.
"We have a lot of things that have happened that are unique and special to Babe Ruth International,'' host president Russell E. Diethrick Jr. said. "That's why they have come back so many years.''
Sixteen times to be exact.
But, in Diethrick's view, none of those World Series staples would be possible without one special event each July.
"All of that and a lot of other things,'' he said, "stand on the shoulders of the World Series of Cars.''
The car show and flea market - the only one in the country that solely supports Babe Ruth World Series activities, Diethrick said - has raised just shy of $220,000 since 1984. The 29th annual event will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 22 with up to 400 vehicles, including trucks, fire trucks, antique cars, sports cars and street rods being judged.
"This is the only judged car show at this end of the state,'' said World Series of Cars president Chuck Sinatra. "If a guy wants to know how good his car is, he brings it to a show like this."
So when the gates open in less than two weeks - breakfast will be available starting at 7 a.m. - it won't be a surprise to see car owners from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada or Massachusetts vying for "best-in-show" honors.
But Sinatra wants everyone to know that the event is more than a car show and more than handing out some pretty cool trophies in 46 judged categories. What it is, he maintains, is a vehicle - no pun intended - to raise money so that Jamestown can cover the $40,000 franchise fee to bring a World Series here.
According to Diethrick, the fee, which helps pay to transport the teams to Jamestown, is a significant portion of the committee's $125,000 World Series budget. But with three or four years between tournaments, the car show can raise enough money to cover the franchise fee while allowing the local committee to concentrate its efforts on other aspects of the event. Meanwhile, greater Jamestown is the beneficiary as hundreds of visitors descend on the community for more than a week, spending money locally as they go.
"This is why we did this at the beginning,'' Sinatra said. "It's not just a car show. Otherwise we wouldn't be doing it."
With cooperation from Chautauqua County and Jamestown's police, fire and parks departments, as well as a loyal group of sponsors, the car show continues to be one of the summer highlights each year.
And none of it would have come to fruition nearly three decades ago had Sinatra and a couple friends not attended a car show that was, in Sinatra's words, so "poorly managed" that they were convinced they could do a better job.
"Les Ostrander, myself and Rod Williams were having coffee later and we said, 'If we can't put on a better car show then we'll quit,''' Sinatra said. " It all came together into this World Series of Cars."
The local committee is still going strong all these years later.