Puerto Rican MLB Baseball Heritage Finds Its Home in Branson, Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Puerto Rican MLB Baseball Heritage Finds Its Home in Branson, Missouri

The ‘First Family of Puerto Rico Baseball’ is represented at Ballparks of America through Coach Karl Bithorn who shares heritage of MLB Hall of Fame baseball great Hiram Bithorn with America’s 10U­13U youth baseball teams in Branson, Missouri.

Branson, MO (February 10, 2017) – Major League Baseball’s Hiram Bithorn was a baseball pioneer who set the course for all Puerto Rican players to achieve their MLB dreams, paving the way for baseball Hall of Fame players like Roberto Clemente, Roberto Alomar and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. That heritage is honored by Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, the home of the Caribbean World Series and World Baseball Classic Games, which has served as a touch point for Puerto Rican baseball fans and major leaguers, and has been the host of home games for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. Even the features of the famous Bithorn Stadium playing field offer unique qualities worth sharing all the way to America’s heartland in southwest Missouri. Puerto Rican baseball heritage has extended into Branson, Missouri where youth baseball teams experience the same quality turf as that used for the Major League Baseball sanctioned games at Bithorn Stadium – the turf installed at all replica fields at Ballparks of America is the same as that of Bithorn Stadium including strand length, strength and sand mixture.

This unique feature did not go unnoticed by Coach Karl Bithorn, grand­nephew of Hiram Bithorn, who traveled from Florida last summer to coach 10U­13U youth baseball in Branson. Teams from all across the country came to compete in week­long tournaments at Ballparks of America while also learning from Bithorn. Players were immediately drawn to Bithorn’s demeanor, patience and contagious natural energy as he spent countless hours “shagging” balls with the kids, and kicking back with them in the air­conditioned team suites to answer questions and share baseball tips passed down from his great­uncle. Bithorn – endearingly pegged “Coach K” by the young players – possessed the unique ability to make every young player feel special regardless of their team affiliation.

Little did staff members know that Ballparks of America was hosting a team coached by a member of the ‘first family of Puerto Rican baseball’; imagine their surprise when, during the coaches’ orientation they explained how Ballparks of America selected the same turf as that found at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Bithorn humbly replied “yeah, that’s my great uncle” – referring to Hiram Bithorn for whom the stadium is named after.

From Miami, Florida, Karl Bithorn continues to carry the Puerto Rico baseball spirit that runs through his veins into many baseball diamonds across America having played at SUNY Ulster CC (NY) and Bacone College (OK), and coached at St. Thomas University (FL) and Dominican College (NY). Bithorn nurtured his gift as a young baseball player In Miami, Florida where he attended Miami Springs Middle school and was a true American High School Patriots contributor and played for the Florida Pokers travel baseball club.

Bithorn’s heritage is now one of the many legacies woven into the fabric of Ballparks of America where five of the nation’s most famous MLB ballparks are honored by 2:3­scale replica stadiums including St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn and Boston. Since the close of the 2016 fall baseball season, Bithorn has extended Karl Bithorn Coaching BY Future Games at Ballparks of America his heritage into the facility’s hometown of Branson, Missouri where he has since planted his roots: “I came from New York last summer to work with kids at Ballparks of America, this crazy cool new baseball tournament complex in the Midwest,” says Karl Bithorn. “At first, I didn’t know what to expect from Branson. I enjoyed the lakes, the golf, the food and, of course, baseball. I ultimately decided to stay in Branson, which was a big move for me to leave New York and my home in Florida, but I did it because of the people.” Recently named the 2017 Trivago #1 Best Value City in the U.S., Branson is nationally acclaimed as the vacation destination where ‘families make memories worth repeating’ and offers the best of Ozark Mountain hospitality with more than 200 live shows and attractions, a dozen golf courses, and a variety of theme parks, outdoor adventures and recreational lakes. White Water Park, and a multi­tiered go­cart track and zipline are located next door to Ballparks of America, and the award­winning Silver Dollar City Theme Park is less than 5 miles from campus.

According to Hamilton Chang, CEO of Ballparks of America, “Karl made such an impact at Ballparks of America in our inaugural season and touched the lives of many 10U­13U youth baseball players here. We are also very proud that his Puerto Rican roots are represented here in Branson by the Hiram Bithorn turf throughout our facility.” Chang added, “We can even advertise that it’s an easier drive to Branson than San Juan for the same turf or, more likely, we may honor his heritage with a plaque that marks the unique cosmic intersection of baseball lives.”

During this off season, Karl Bithorn is concentrating on building a unique Summer Collegiate Baseball League in Virginia Beach, VA that will focus on the development of current collegiate ball players throughout North America and Puerto Rico. “This initiative is important to me because my passion belongs to baseball and this league is the next step for me to grow as a baseball professional,” Bithorn stated of his co­ownership in the new Virginia Beach Collegiate Baseball League (www.VirginiaBeachCBL.com).

Registration is open for 2017 Ballparks of America tournaments through April 1, 2017 or until remaining slots are filled for 10U, 11U, 12U and 13U teams. Due to strong demand, early registration is highly encouraged.

For more information, visit www.BallparksOfAmerica.com and “LIKE” us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BallparksOfAmerica.

To request the Summer 2017 Tournament Packet, email Doc Snyder, President­Baseball Operations: Doc@BallparkOfAmerica.com.

For media inquiries, contact Hamilton Chang, CEO and ‘Chief Baseball Dad’ at 847.778.4887 or via email at: BallparksMedia@Gmail.com.

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About Ballparks of America:

Ballparks of America offers America’s Finest Youth Baseball Tournaments. Our goal is simple – to allow 10 to 13 year olds to experience the joy of BFF: Baseball, Friends and Family. We do this first by offering players the opportunity to play at 2/3­size replicas of 5 iconic stadiums spanning the history of baseball. From lighted premium synthetic turf fields to ivy, you’ll feel like you’re in the Big League. Plus, we’re one of the only stay­and­ play facilities nationwide where players experience a week rooming with friends at our MLB­style Team Suites outfitted with HDTV, spaces to hang­out and rec rooms for off­diamond games. All residence halls are air conditioned and feature private showers to add to the professional experience. And for the whole family, Ballparks of America is placed in the heart of the breathtaking Ozark Mountains in the family­focused vacation destination of Branson, MO, voted #1 in Trivago’s “2016 U.S. Best Value Cities” for Vacations Destination, and ranking in TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 U.S. Destinations” five years in a row. You’ll be steps from some of America’s finest theme parks, designer label shopping and a variety of dining options, three pristine lakes famous for record bass fishing and recreational water sports like sailing, skiing and parasailing, as well as a 100­mile hiking trail network and a dozen award­winning golf courses.