Perfect Game makes its Oklahoma City debut
The top high school baseball players from around the country gathered in Oklahoma City at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Friday.
The Perfect Game All-American Classic is annually one of the top high school showcases in the country, pitting the top baseball recruits in the country against each other in exhibition matches.
Major league scouts were sprinkled throughout the stands bearing radar guns and notepads.
One Minnesota Twins scout said, “Every year you look at the class top to bottom, we feel like this year is a really deep group — really talented and one of the best we’ve seen in the last few years for sure.”
The event was originally scheduled to be played in San Diego, but was moved to OKC due to COVID-19. Perfect Game founder Jerry Ford said there were several options for moving the game, but Oklahoma City was by far the best.
Former Oklahoma football head coach Barry Switzer was one of the game’s honorary coaches, the other being country music star Toby Keith.
Switzer, a sports staple in Oklahoma, recognized the importance of the game’s move to the state this year.
“There’s no question about it, when I stand here and you look at these guys and the talent they’ve got, and the way the ball jumps out of their arm and explodes across the field you know these guys are special.” Switzer said. “I think it’s wonderful the Ford family brought it in to have it here today. It’s neat and I’m glad I’m a part of it.
Gray Thomas and Jackson Jobe suited up for the West team on Friday, just over ten miles from where they will play their final season of high school ball at Heritage Hall.
Thomas, who spent his summer throwing his 95 MPH fastballs for Team Elite in Atlanta, was happy the event was close to home.
“It’s normally in a lot of big cities like Atlanta or San Diego, but it’s awesome to have everyone out in Oklahoma City and show everyone where I’m from.” Thomas said. “I enjoy the travel a lot, but being at home is awesome. Being able to have people around and having everybody know that it’s right here and everybody is able to come out and watch is awesome.”
Despite the change in venue, spacing between fans and masks littering the stadium, once the game began, all was normal.
The East team scored the first run of the day when Jay Allen stole all the way around. The West team answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the first.
Top-recruit Joshua Baez hit a leadoff triple in the top of the third and stole home to put the East team ahead 2-1, but the West answered with three big runs starting with back-to-back RBI doubles to blow the game open.
With the score at 7-3, Harry Ford of the East squad hit a two-run shot to score Allen, but it wouldn’t be enough as West went on to win 7-5 in ten innings. Alex Mooney of Rochester Hills, MI won MVP of the game.
Gray, who is committed to play college ball at TCU, didn’t get an opportunity to pitch due to inflammation, but said he was proud to be able to represent Oklahoma nonetheless.
“Being a lifelong Oklahoman, I really have to go out and represent,” Thomas said. “The common misconception is that Oklahoma is bland — It’s a great opportunity to really show everybody what Oklahoma is about and what kind of people we are.”
The Perfect Game will continue through the weekend with its 14U game on Saturday at 3:30, and 13U match on Sunday at 1 p.m.