EVENT OVERVIEW + FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Schedule - July 25-28, 2024
Overview -- 2024 marks the 11th year for the Big 26 Baseball Classic. Two teams of 26 (rising sophomores and juniors) are selected via tryouts to represent Pennsylvania and Maryland, respectively. College coaches 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. The 3-game series features 9-inning, untimed games traditionally played on Friday (Game 1), Saturday (Game 2), and Sunday (Game 3) pending weather exceptions. Players house and practice at PSU Harrisburg and travel to FNB field via motor coach.
Buddy Program -- Players participate in the Buddy Program, building relationships with special needs children, teens, and young adults age 5-21 through various activities such as a picnic and modified baseball game. These activities and relationships often shine as the heart of the Big 26 event.
Q: Do I need to be officially invited to a tryout?
A: No. Tryouts in Pennsylvania and Maryland are open to high school players who meet the grad year qualifications for the event. In 2023, classes of 2024 and 2025 are eligible to register for tryouts.
Q: How are players evaluated in the tryouts?
A: Tryouts involve timed 60s, throwing sessions for pitchers, pop sessions for catchers, standard infield/outfield and BP. Making the Big 26 roster is about more than just the measurables. Coaches are watching for a positive attitude, teamwork, leadership, hustle, and heart.
Q: If I am already committed, can I still try out?
A: Yes. We're proud to have support from college coaches and scouts who attend our events, but they agree that the Big 26 is more than a scouting event. Players enjoy and benefit from the Big 26 competition structure, the friendships it creates, and the special experience of the Buddy Program. 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 coaches to watch you play and to see your enthusiasm and respect for the game.
Q: What if the event conflicts with my summer team schedule?
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 - and other vendor and staffing considerations. With a crowded summer schedule of travel and legion baseball, there is no "magic date" or set of dates that would render zero conflicts to all interested players. Interested players should feel free to contact our office for further discussion.
Q: Can I be considered for the team if I don't try out?
A: All players must register for one of their state's designated tryout sessions and participate to the fullest reasonable extent to be considered. If a tryout date immediately precedes (is the day before) a high school game where the tryout participant is scheduled to pitch, that pitcher is not required to throw a live bullpen. In these cases, pitchers should be prepared to provide video and/or season stats plus a recommendation from their high school coach prior to the tryout. Big 26 tryouts are highly competitive. Players should understand that the more our coaches can see live, the better.
Q: Can college coaches and scouts attend the tryouts?
A: Yes. The tryout process is open to coaches and scouts. College coach attendance varies based on dates, as some tryouts occur in the final stretch of the college season. Big 26 makes player contact information, combine/skills results and any video collected available to all recruiting coaches and scouts even if they are unable to attend the tryout.
Q: How many college coaches and scouts attend and what schools are they from?
A: Any college coach or pro scout may register to attend. College coach and scout attendance at tryouts varies due to in-season schedule conflicts. Coach and scout attendance at the series event in July is traditionally 30+ and we grow each year.
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 host schools at all levels; Junior Colleges, DI, DII, DIII. You can find the list of schools that attended one or more events in 2021 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) with a fiscal goal of breaking even. The tryout fee and final roster fee (notes below), ticket & merchandise sales, and sponsorships all combine to support a long list of event expenses, community outreach programs, and health & sportsmanship initiatives. (Operations, equipment, gear, insurance, facility rentals, the Buddy Program - the Buddy Program is 100% free to all participants - marketing & communications, community outreach, and more.) Our cost/fee structure is designed with a goal of breaking even so that we can continue to host the annual event, offer a unique, impactful, and inclusive baseball experience, and grow community involvement. Players who accept final roster positions submit a separate roster fee to cover player-specific expenses such as housing, meals, transportation, etc.
Q: How are the final roster spots distributed?
A: Standard Big 26 rosters typically consist of 26 players: 6-Pitchers, 3-Catchers, 8-Infielders, 6-Outfielders and 3-Multiple Position/Utility Players. Under special schedule and situational circumstances and collective coach/operations approval, adjustments may be allowed.
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 general framework often follows this set-up: 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. Adjustments may be made at the coach's discretion to accommodate 2-way players, injury, weather delays, or other schedule considerations.
Q: Is there a cost for the final roster?
A: Yes. Final roster players are required to submit a player fee that covers the player's housing (4 days and 3 overnights), meals, game transportation, stadium fees, custom uniforms and apparel, and more. The final roster fee for 2022 is subject to change pending outside variables, but is expected to be approximately $400.00 and would be due 2-3 weeks ahead of the event in July. (Final roster fees will be set prior to tryouts.) This fee also secures the player's full page player profile in the event program.
Q: Are there any fundraising opportunities for the final roster?
A: Players have the option to reach out to friends & family and local businesses to sponsor their participation. Sponsors are recognized via name, 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 receive uniforms?
A: Yes. Players receive a game hat, personalized game jersey, and additional miscellaneous Big 26 gear. Players keep all attire *except* game pants and belts. We work with Marucci for most of our gear.
Q: Where do players stay?
A: We expect 2023 housing to be apartment-style dorms at Penn State Harrisburg. This convenient location offers on-site meals and practice facilities. Players bus to FNB Field for games via motor coach. *Should housing at PSU HBG become unavailable due to Covid-19 related campus protocols, Big 26 housing would shift to a local hotel.
*Please Note: FAQ are separate from the Terms & Conditions set forth in the Player, Buddy Program, and Volunteer registration. FAQ are designed to be available year-round to give website visitors a general overview of what to expect from the Big 26 tryout process and all-star event, but may be adjusted to reflect updated event operations and protocols. Official updates to the event will be shared as necessary with registered players, staff, and volunteers.