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The Beast of the East is back for a 26th year

Updated: Thursday, July 3 2014, 06:29 PM EDT
If it's the 4th of July in the Ohio Valley, then it's time for the massive Edgar Martin Beast of the East Classic, one of the largest amateur baseball tournaments of its kind in the country.
Chances are, if you drive past a baseball diamond in the Ohio Valley during the next four days, you're going to see players on the field as the 'Beast' celebrates its 26th year.
The brainchild of then-West Liberty State College baseball coach Bo McConnaughy and local businessman B.A. Crawford, who have slowed the last few years but still have a couple of hands in running the event, the Beast was born in 1989 after the two had taken teams to various tournaments and continually found out how to not run a baseball tournament.
They took a few good ideas from those trips and incorporated many of their own to begin the Beast, which in those days involved fewer teams than the number of fields that are in use for the tourney today.
This weekend, they're utilizing 31 fields, including a new one to the tourney in Canonsburg, Pa. They rely heavily on volunteers - some of whom have been involved from Day 1 - to take care of the various fields and sites. The payback for those field directors or organizations that run the various fields has always been they keep 100 percent of what they take in from whatever ambition they put forward at the site.
Plus, they've annually gotten quite a few public pats on the back from Crawford and McConnaughy, who say the Beast would not exist without them.
The tournament has grown to more than 160 teams with a waiting list almost that long. Teams come from all over the United States and Canada participate in the Beast of the East.
Obviously, the players have changed, but some team names haven't. Teams like Andy's 9ers and B.B. Rooners are as familiar to the Ohio Valley on the July 4 weekend as fireworks and hot dogs.
The economic impact is huge -it's among the Top-3 tourist attractions in the Ohio Valley each year, known to push past $8 million across five days -- as teams fill hotels covering three states in the area and visit restaurants, shops, and seek entertainment when they're not on the field.

For more on the tournament, or to check scores, visit:

The Beast of the East is back for a 26th year

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