USSSA Tournaments coming to Cleveland
by Andy Collier
Jan 12, 2013 | 2801 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Clint Black has always enjoyed baseball and displayed an undying love for his hometown of Cleveland.

Black played high school baseball at Cleveland High School under then head coach Sank Powe and played college baseball at Delta State University under Bill Marchant and Mike Kinnison. He also played park commission sports as a kid and has coached park commission and travel baseball.

The 36-year-old has now found a way to give back to the town he loves involving the sport he loves. Black will be the director of United States Specialty Sports Association Baseball Tournaments for boys ages 8-13 in Cleveland. The first tournament will be the Fighting Okra Invitation Tournament on Mar. 2 at Bear Pen Park.

All total 12 different weekends from March to June have been scheduled.

Many parents in the town have kids participating in USSSA baseball. To play in USSSA Tournament parents have had to hit the road to places all over the state for a weekend.

Black said the cost to hit the road to compete in USSSA Tournaments, along with the parks in Cleveland, made getting the tournaments in town a mission.

“It’s a burden on a lot of these parents to travel every weekend,” Black said. “It gets very expensive. Also, we have great facilities here. So, when we go play at a park that’s not very good, I go ‘Wow! We’ve got a park that’s so much better in Cleveland.’ You start putting these things together, why not have a tournament? Why not make Cleveland a destination point for everyone else? Bring those people here.

“We’ve got a lot more to offer than some of these other towns that have put these tournaments on successfully for the last couple of years.”

Black has been trying to get sanctioned USSSA Tournaments in Cleveland since the spring. The quest of getting the sanctioned tournaments in town wasn’t an easy one in the beginning.

“I talked to USSSA three different times and was told no,” Black said. “I called the state director Scotty Baker, and he told me no. Four or five weeks would roll on and I’m just not really good at someone telling me no. I just kept pushing, pushing, figuring out what it was going to take to make it happen. There was a solution to it, and we just had to figure it out. The fourth time was the charm as USSSA agreed and that was the biggest hurdle.”

“That’s why the last 15 or 20 years, nobody has been successful at making it happen is because we’ve been told no by USSSA. It has taken a lot to get to where we are right now.”

Black went over the plans with Cleveland Park Commission Director Stephen Glorioso and Cleveland Aldermen Gary Gainspoletti and Danny Abraham, and he got full support from the city. Black could have chosen any city to hold the tournaments, but Cleveland was always the number one place where he wanted to make it happen.

“This is my home,” Black said. “That’s the biggest thing. This is an opportunity for me to give back to the community. These are my friends, this is my family, and these are the business people I’ve been working together with my whole life. There’s just so many good reasons to do it. Why not?”

Black said the support he has gotten from aldermen Gainspoletti and Abraham has been instrumental in getting the tournaments in town.

“This would not have happened without the aldermen’s support,” Black said. “They’re work and support has been vital.”

Abraham said Black’s work ethic was the driving force.

“What Clint is doing by leasing our fields, anyone could do it if they want to hold a tournament, softball, baseball, whatever, by signing a lease agreement with the city,” Abraham said. “Clint has stepped forward and taken the initiative to make it happen.”

According to Abraham, the tournaments will give Cleveland’s youth a more competitive playing field by bringing in athletes from other cities. He said it also promotes Cleveland by showing visitors what the town has to offer such as stores, restaurants, hotels, Delta State University and many other attractions. Visitors will be shopping in the stores, eating in the restaurants and staying in the hotels.

Abraham said the tournament will have a positive economic impact.

“It’s going to stimulate the economy,” Abraham said. “When you bring in 14 to 20 traveling teams, they’re going to spend a weekend in Cleveland. Each team not only brings in 12 to 15 players, but they are also going bringing their coaches, parent grandparents and siblings. Everybody comes out to support the team.”

Abraham also added the tournaments will provide great entertainment for everybody.

Black said the USSSA tournaments would not interfere with the regular league programs.

“I grew up playing city ball,” Black said. “That’s important to me. We’re going to continue to support that. We’re going to give those kids even more opportunity to play baseball on the weekends if they chose to and not have to travel and go somewhere else. It’s definitely something that I’m trying to work with the city and the park commission to make it a win-win situation for everybody.”

To participate in any of the tournaments, contact Black at