When Dave Trimbur began planning for the inaugural Big 26 Baseball Classic, he had a good template to copy from.
Trimbur, the Big 33 Football Classic's executive director, came up with the idea for a high school baseball showcase two years ago. The goal was to create an event that mirrored the Big 33 formula -- namely, providing a platform for top athletes while augmenting the football game's fundraising and philanthropic efforts.
The end result will make its debut this weekend. The three-game, Big 26 series between all-star teams from Pennsylvania and Maryland will kick off with games at Sovereign Bank Stadium Friday and Saturday night, both set for 6:45. The third game will be played at Harrisburg's Metro Bank Stadium at 6 p.m. Sunday.
"It's been in the works for a little bit," Trimbur said Thursday. "Trying to design it, outlay it. Deciding, what were the elements that we wanted to keep from football and move into baseball?"
The two teams will feature rising senior players from the two states. A pair of YAIAA players made the Pennsylvania team -- South Western pitcher Parker Bean and Littlestown catcher Logan Mummert. They will be managed by Red Land's Nate Ebbert.
But as is the case with the iconic Big 33 game, the weekend's festivities are meant to feature much more than baseball. Trimbur said players will stay with host families and participate in a buddy program with special needs children. Both programs are staples of the Big 33 experience.
The Big 26 will also feature a "Rising Stars" tournament which includes 56 youth teams from across the Northeast, ranging from the U-9 to U-15 age levels.
"We hope to create that culture of Big 26 baseball from those kids that are out playing in those travel tournaments," Trimbur said.
And as for the three showpiece games? Those figure to attract plenty of attention -- and not simply from parents and fans. Trimbur said a group of 30 college coaches and Major League Baseball scouts have registered to attend the three-day event. He added that 22 coaches and scouts showed up to the Pennsylvania team's tryout in May.