MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Dozens of youth baseball players paraded onto the field at AutoZone Park on Thursday evening, as the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 HotelPlanner.com National Youth Baseball Championships (NYBC) kicked off the annual event.
For the first time in the event's five-year history, the Opening Ceremonies took place in downtown Memphis at AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The NYBC brings together 12 of the top 12-and-under teams in the country at Gameday Baseball's First Tennessee Fields in Germantown, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis.
Champions from eight youth baseball sanctioning organizations -- American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF), PONY Baseball, Super Series Baseball of America and United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) -- and four at-large teams are on hand.
Pool play runs all day Friday, with the top eight teams advancing to Saturday's quarterfinals. The semifinals are played at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. CT on Sunday, with the championship game at 6 p.m. CT on Monday.
CBS Sports Network will televise select games, and MLB.com will provide live stats for all games. Click here for a full schedule and live stats.
Former Major Leaguers Frank Thomas and Jeff Nelson -- who threw out ceremonial first pitches Thursday at AutoZone Park -- will be part of the broadcast team, as well as former Mets and Orioles front office man Jim Duquette.
The 12 teams traveled to Tennessee from nine states, from as far as California and as close as just down the road. The Germantown Giants, who practice at the complex, were one of the four at-large selections.
The Banditos Black of Tomball, Texas, representing the Super Series Baseball of America, are the top team at the event, as they are back to defend their 2011 title. This summer is their third straight year coming to the championships.
The So Cal Outlaws Black of Chino Hills, Calif., represent AABC, while the AAU champion is Team Texas of Rusk, Texas.
Babe Ruth Baseball is represented by the Upper Montgomery All Stars of Boyds, Md., while the team from Hope Mills, N.C., comes to the tournament as the Dixie Youth Baseball champion.
The Central Florida Gators of Altamonte Springs, Fla., represent NABF, with Sierra Valley Storm of El Dorado Hills, Calif., playing as the PONY Baseball champion. Team Phenom of Moreno Valley, Calif., is the USSSA champion.
Joining the hometown Giants as at-large selections are the Dairy Queen Crushers of Conway, Ark., the Next Level Tornadoes of Plainfield, Ill., and Stealth Baseball USA of New Haven, Conn.