EVENT OVERVIEW + FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
COVID-19 NOTICE: Planning for the 2021 Big 26 Baseball Classic is underway with the hope and expectation that we will be able to operate without major adjustments to our traditional event format. However, we understand that the fluid nature of Covid-19 concerns may make it necessary to adjust one or more aspects. The FAQ section below reflects a "normal" operating year. Any adjustments will be communicated as details become available.
Overview -- Two teams of 26 rising sophomores and juniors will be chosen via tryouts to represent Pennsylvania and Maryland, respectively. College coaches will be invited to attend the tryout sessions that run as a pro-style workout, a final roster pro-style workout and the 3-game set at FNB Field in Harrisburg, PA.
Spirit of the Event -- While the event offers players an excellent opportunity to showcase their talents in person for college coaches and scouts, the Big 26 Baseball Classic® is designed to be to be a unique summer baseball experience that not only gives players the chance to compete with and against some of the best players in Pennsylvania and Maryland, but also to grow on and off the field through events like the Buddy Program. Players room, travel and eat together, and play a 3-game series to mimic college and minor league road trip experiences. The Big 26 Baseball Classic is operated by a non-profit organization.
Buddy Program -- Players participate in the Buddy Program, building relationships with children, teens and young adults (age 5-21) living with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Activities include a picnic and Challenger Game, and all buddies are invited to be announced with their Big 26 player before each game.
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Q: Do I need to be officially invited to a tryout?
A: No. Tryouts in Pennsylvania and Maryland are open to any varsity high school player in those states who meets the grad year qualifications for the event. In 2021, classes of 2022 and 2023 are eligible.
Q: Can I be considered for the team if I don't tryout?
A: No. All players must register to tryout prior to the posted deadlines and attend their state's designated tryout session to be considered. Big 26 will offer several dates and locations in each state that are open to all players from any region. (Ex: A player from Western PA is welcome to try out in Central PA and vice versa if the dates are more accommodating for an alternate location.)
Q: How are players evaluated in the tryouts?
A: The tryouts take on a combine structure for timed 60s, throwing sessions for pitchers, pop sessions for catchers, standard infield/outfield and batting practice. Beyond the measurables, coaches are watching for leadership, hustle, and heart.
Q: If I am already committed to a school, can I still try out?
A: Yes. We believe the Big 26 is more than a scouting event and that all players can benefit from its competition structure, the friendships it creates and the special experience of the Buddy Program and Challenger Game. Our players consistently say that the Big 26 experience was unique and worthwhile no matter what stage of the recruiting process they are in. Plus, it's another opportunity and setting for your future college coach to see you perform in a unique competitive environment.
Q: I want to try out, but it's too soon to tell if the event will conflict with my summer/legion team's commitments.
A: The Big 26 dates are selected each year primarily on the availability of FNB Field, the premier playing surface and facility in our region. Unfortunately, there is no "magic date" or set of dates that would render zero conflicts to all interested players. We encourage players to talk with their summer coaches and make the best choice for their individual situation. Interested players should feel free to contact our office for further discussion.
Q: Can college coaches and scouts attend the tryouts?
A: Yes. The tryout process is open to coaches and scouts and can be an opportunity to be seen by schools even if the player is not selected to the final roster. Big 26 will make player contact information, combine results and any video collected available to all recruiting coaches and scouts.
Q: How many college coaches and scouts attend and what schools are they from?
A: Any coach or pro organization may attend free of charge. The number of coaches and scouts varies from year. Some tryouts are scheduled during the college season, while others may be held after seasons end.
Big 26 sends player information to all coaches who attend ANY of our events or who request it. Example: a coach who attends PA West will automatically receive our notes on tryouts from PA East and Maryland. We work each year to reach out to schools at all levels; Junior Colleges, DI, DII, DIII. You can find the list of schools that attended one or more events in 2019 HERE.
Q: Why does Big 26 charge a tryout fee?
A: The Big 26 Baseball Classic is a non-profit event (owned and operated by a 501c6 organization) that must support itself year over year. The tryout fee and final roster fee (below), ticket & merchandise sales and generous sponsor support combine to cover a long list of expenses such as insurance, facility rentals, the Buddy Program (the Buddy Program is 100% free to all participants), communications costs and more. Our cost/fee structure is designed with a goal of breaking even and delivering a top notch player experience at all events from tryouts to the final out of Game 3.
Q: Is the Big 26 Baseball Classic a Showcase?
A: The Big 26 Baseball Classic is a showcase opportunity, but adds many more elements to the players' overall experience. College coaches and scouts are invited to tryouts, a coaches' combine for the final rosters, and the 3-game competitive series at FNB Field. We are proud to offer this element as a very important component and benefit of the event. But, as we've mentioned in other areas of the FAQ, we feel the Big 26 is about more than the scouted element. We're often told by players that the Buddy Program had the greatest impact on them, and that playing for their state with a new group of athletes for a short but event-filled time led to lifelong friendships. The opportunity to work out and compete in front of college coaches and pro scouts is a key part of the event, but you'll find that the benefits go beyond the data sheets and measurables.
Q: How are the final roster sports distributed?
A: Each team will consist of 26 players: 6-Pitchers, 3-Catchers, 8-Infielders, 6-Outfielders and 3-Multiple Position/Utility Players.
Q: How is playing time determined for the 3-game series?
A: Playing time is designed for equal exposure and participation for all players. The starting lineup (position players) for Game 1 will play 5 innings. The bench will play innings 6 - 9. Players who did not start Game 1 will start Game 2, with the bench finishing out the game. Game 3 features a 3-inning rotation to get everyone in the game. Pitchers are also rotated accordingly throughout the series.
Q: What is a typical Big 26 schedule?
A: The Big 26 Baseball Classic typically involves 4 days of activities.
Thursday (Day): Players check in to PSU Harrisburg. Each team holds a short practice and information session.
Thursday (Evening): Players participate in the Buddy Picnic and Challenger Game.
Friday (Day): Players participate in the coaches' combine.
Friday (Night): Game 1 at FNB Field.
Saturday (Midday or Early evening): Game 2 at FNB Field.
Sunday (Midday): Game 3 at FNB Field.
Q: Is there a cost for the final roster?
A: Yes. Final roster players are required to submit a player fee that helps to cover costs such as player housing*, transportation, meals, uniforms, etc. The final roster fee for 2021 is TBD, but is typically around $400.00. Details for due dates will be distributed with roster invitations. This fee also secures the player's full page player profile in the event program. *Players typically house in apartment-style dorms at PSU Harrisburg. While we hope to be in the dorms for 2021, we understand that Covid-19 protocols may affect this portion of our event. Big 26 will announce details as soon as possible.
Q: Are there any fundraising opportunities for the final roster?
A: The timeline doesn't lend it self to traditional fundraising, but players have the option to reach out to local businesses to sponsor their participation. Sponsors are recognized via logo and/or the player's thank you message on their player profile page in the event program. Sample sponsor letters will be distributed at tryouts. The window between roster selections and the due date for payment is only a few weeks, so players who wish to utilize the sponsor option should begin thinking about their outreach plans ahead of the team announcements.
Q: Do players keep their uniforms?
A: Yes. Players receive a game hat, personalized game jersey, shirt for Challenger game, shorts and additional miscellaneous Big 26 gear. Players keep all attire *except* for game pants and belts. We work with Marucci for most of our gear.
Q: Where do players stay?
A: Players stay together in apartment-style dorms at Penn State Harrisburg. This creates an incredible team-building atmosphere and fosters lifelong friendships between players. Each team is driven to FNB Field on game days via team motor coach.