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Tom Mix, Published August 13 2013

Fargo team's 30-year Babe Ruth World Series drought comes to an end

FARGO – Thirty years have come and gone since a Babe Ruth baseball team from Fargo last appeared in a World Series tournament.

The Fargo 13-year-old Babe Ruth All Stars ended the drought, earning a World Series berth after defeating Grand Forks in the North Dakota state tournament last month in Bismarck.

The World Series tournament runs Saturday through Aug. 24 at Williston’s Aafedt Stadium. Ten teams will be split into two pools of five and are guaranteed at least four games. Fargo opens pool play against Weimar, Texas at 5:30 p.m Saturday.

The 30-year window between the two teams may seem large, but there is a link between the two.

Fargo’s last Babe Ruth World Series squad – made up of 13 to 15 year olds – qualified in 1984. One of the members on that team was Pat Sanders, who later passed away in car accident in 1990.

Mat Sanders, Pat’s brother, is an assistant coach for the All Stars and Mat’s son, Jonas Sanders, is leading the team in batting average (.491) and RBIs (48).

Coincidentally, both Pat and Jonas scored the winning runs in the clinching games that sent the 1984 and 2013 teams to the World Series.

“That’s too special of a connection to be random,” Fargo All Stars coach Matt Peck said.

Mat Sanders, who was 11 when Pat’s team played in the 1984 World Series in Niles, Mich., can see similarities his son shares with his brother.

“The real connection between the two of them is the straight up love of the game,” Mat Sanders said. “Jonas loves every aspect of the game of baseball just like Pat did.”

“To be on a team that has made it to a World Series like his team did is cool,” Jonas Sanders added.

The All Stars have had an impressive summer going 32-5. Fargo won every tournament it played in and will be joined by fellow North Dakota teams Williston and Grand Forks at the World Series. Grand Forks won the regional tournament in Fountain, Colo., and Williston received an automatic berth as the host team.

“They’re all having a special year,” Peck said of the All Stars. “They are all hard workers and they just can’t seem to get enough baseball. It’s really like they are in their own little paradise when they are playing or practicing. They are all motivated and love playing the game.”

Fargo’s Jonathan Brooks is batting .410 with 23 RBIs and Chandler Ibach is batting .409 with a team-best 49 runs scored.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the competition up there,” Jonas Sanders said. “We can’t be intimidated by the other teams, their jerseys, how big they are or how fast they throw.”

“We have to play together as a team and just go out and work hard,” All Stars player Jacob McKeever added. “Our defense is really good and we also have great pitching.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562