PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For fifteen years, the Grand Slam World Series of Baseball has made Panama City Beach home during July.
This weekend, they're wrapping up a three week run at Frank Brown Park.
So far, 287 teams from 20 states have taken the field, with a fourth batch of games slated to begin in two weeks.
Dunwoody, Georgia's Diablos won the 14-U championship over the Americus Travelers on Saturday, making the trip, the entry fee, all associated costs and most importantly, all the time and effort worthwhile. For the teams down here (especially at this age), this week is more than a vacation.
"We practice all year," head coach Tom Bass said. "We're high school coaches and we get ready to culminate in a big event. Grand Slam is that big event. To come here and end our season with a win, it doesn't get any better than that."
The Diablos are one of several teams that wrap their season with Grand Slam. For them, the World Series lives up to its name, and the "summer classic" is a tradition.
"We started playing here when they first started Grand Slam. It's a great trip. The beach is great. The competition is great. The weather is great. The facilities--there's nothing bad about it. That's why we love coming to Panama City."
Lucky for them, Dunwoody is just outside Atlanta and close enough to drive. There's no way they'd fit the first place trophy in an airplane overhead if they needed to fly back!
Safe to say, that and the championship rings are the coolest hardware they'll bring home until these players are lucky enough to win a state championship in a couple years if they're lucky.
"We like to pride ourselves on our seven foot bat trophies. All the kids love the bat trophies," Grand Slam director Eddie Peyton said. "They loves those, they love the championship rings.
"One thing we definitely pride ourselves on is camaraderie between the teams, sportsmanship. Every time we do one of our trophy ceremonies or trophy presentations, we like to have both teams. Our first and second place teams and they always congratulate one another."
USFA softball takes over Frank Brown Park and opens the new Panama City Beach Sports Complex on Monday.