EPHRATA — The fact that Babe Ruth League, Inc. has close to two million volunteers nationwide makes the selection all that much more prestigious.
Northern Washington State commissioner and Columbia Basin River Dogs skipper Randy Boruff was presented with the Lefty Gomez National Volunteer of the Year Award.
Boruff has been instrumental to youth baseball in the Columbia Basin for over three decades, including serving as the host president for three Babe Ruth World Series in Moses Lake and four in Ephrata.
“I’m honored, because it comes from the home office and there’s a lot of people that deserve that award. So for them to pick me is pretty special. I’m very flattered,” Boruff said. “We’ve put on a total of seven World Series in the Columbia Basin. The reason Babe Ruth comes here is because they know it’s going to be a good show.”
The Babe Ruth League is an international youth baseball and softball league based in Hamilton, N.J. It has increased steadily from its first 10-team league in Hamilton Township, N.J., to its current combined size of well over one million players on some 60,000-plus teams in more than 11,000 leagues nationwide.
“Randy’s been lending his expertise in what we do throughout the region for many, many years,” said Robert Faherty, vice president/commissioner for Babe Ruth League, Inc. “The award is in recognition for all of those years of coaching in the World Series, hosting regional and state tournaments, being a state commissioner. That led us to say that he is more than deserving of one of Babe Ruth’s most prestigious awards.
“When you consider that Babe Ruth League probably has two million volunteers. If you counted every coach, assistant coach and every volunteer across the country helping the organization. Randy is well deserving for everything he does.”
Boruff, whose Columbia Basin River Dog team won the Senior Babe Ruth World Series championship in 2015, was presented with the Lefty Gomez Award at the champions breakfast during World Series week in Ephrata earlier this month.
“It was a surprise when they made the announcement. I wasn’t anticipating anything like this,” Boruff said. “It takes 70 to 100 people during that eight-day period to put a World Series on, so it’s a team effort for sure.”
As he looks back over 30 years of involvement, he’s quite proud of the caliber of ballplayers the Columbia Basin has produced over the years.
“The 1998 team with all of the (MLB) drafted players and winning the national title was something,” he said. “In 1995, the very first World Series we won with the 16-year-olds (in Jamestown, N.Y.) was a good group of kids and a good experience.
“In 2005, we finished third in Ohio. That team had a lot of four-year guys. Jorge Reyes (from Warden) went to Oregon State and was the MVP of the College World Series. He was on that 2005 team. Michael Ratekin went to Washington State and Michael Taylor, that was the pitching staff that year. As you look back, Sonny Garza, who went to San Jose State, is now coaching Othello, was also on that team.”
The list of Columbia Basin baseball talent goes on and on. The 2017 World Series at Johnson-O’Brien Stadium recognized the 1998 River Dog team that won a national championship and had seven players drafted in the Major League Draft, including Ryan Doumit (Pirates), BJ Garbe (Twins) and Jason Cooper (Phillies), who were in the top 63 players selected that year.
“The population of the Columbia Basin is what? Maybe 60,000, and yet they’re competing on the diamond with teams from Mobile, Ala., Cape Cod, Mass., and Charlotte, N.C.,” Faherty said. “Randy has a lot of pride in the community and he enjoys showing off to other baseball people what you have done there in the Columbia Basin.
“He’s well deserving of this award.”