McALESTER — Few people understand the Jr. Sunbelt Classic baseball tournament as McAlester coach Jackie Cumbie understands it. After all, how many others can say they’ve played in, watched their sons play in, hosted other players in, coached in and administered the tournament?
“You have some state pride involved, and you’re playing for championships, not just playing out the string, playing the games, getting your innings in and going home,” Cumbie said Tuesday. “That’s what kind of separates this from a lot of the other summer showcase events that are out there.”
Cumbie’s ties to the Sunbelt began in 1979, when he played for team Oklahoma. Started in 1977 and then known as the Oklahoma-California Series, the 1979 tournament took place at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.
“Oklahoma won the first game; California won the second game, and then the tornado sirens rang right after (batting practice) and pre-game infield,” Cumbie said. “In came a flood, and we didn’t get to finish the series that year.”
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