Altoona AAABA playoffs set to begin today

The All-American Amateur Baseball [AAABA] national tournament in Johnstown marks its 70-year anniversary in August, and with it will come some perks for the teams involved.

In prior seasons, many of the teams were required to win regional tournaments in order to advance to Johnstown.

This summer, because of the anniversary, Johnstown is offering each city’s league winner an opportunity to participate in the national tournament without having to negotiate a regional.

The Altoona AAABA will begin its league playoffs today, with a pair of best-of-three semifinal series. Ketrow Insurance will take on last season’s Altoona AAABA Regional champion, Johnston Realty, at 2 p.m., while the top-seeded Wise Trailer Sales squad faces the Railbirds team at 5 p.m. Both games are set for Juniata’s field.

The semifinal winners will play a best-of-five championship series next week, and the winner of that series will represent Altoona in Johnstown.

“There’s no regional this year,” said John Austin, Altoona AAABA league president. “The league winners go to Johnstown.”

The change doesn’t drastically affect Altoona teams because in the past, an Altoona representative was often awarded an automatic berth in Johnstown for having hosted a regional tournament.

Last year, Johnston Realty advanced to Johnstown by winning the Altoona regional outright.

“We’ve always hosted a regional, which meant that we’ve always had an automatic berth in Johnstown,” Austin said.

This year’s AAABA national tournament begins Monday, Aug. 4 with games in Johnstown and surrounding areas involving 16 teams from cities throughout the northeast and midwestern United States.

Along with Altoona’s representative, Johnstown will have two representatives at the national tournament as the host city. Chicago will also have two representatives.

Other cities represented in the national tournament will be Brooklyn, Buffalo, Columbus, Livonia (Mich.), New Brunswick (N.J), New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Schenectady (N.Y.), Youngstown (Ohio), and Zanesville (Ohio).