Over the past 21 years, 620 13- to 15-year-olds have combined to participate in the LaFesta Baseball Exchange.
On Sunday, a new group of kids will help the exchange reach a new milestone in its 22nd year. They will play the 80th game of the series.
The 22-year-old exchange is one of the longest-running exchanges in the 13- to 15-year-old age bracket on the east coast. Of the 620 kids that have participated from North Adams and the North End of Boston, eight of them have signed contracts with major league baseball teams.
The exchange is less about baseball and more about introducing kids to a different culture.
"It's hard to explain, you really have to be around the kids and see how they react to each other," founder of the exchange George Canales said. "It's been an amazing exchange for the past 22 years."
Canales says that he gets letters from several of the kids that were involved in the exchange at one point, sharing stories and memories. Several kids start a pen-pal relationship with kids from the opposite team. Canales even knew of one instance where a duo ended up being college roommates. It's things like that that makes Canales want to continue with the exchange.
"It's unbelievable how the kids react and the sportsmanship they display, you really have to see it to believe it," he said. "Kids from both teams cheer each other on, and we don't care who wins and who losses. We just care about them
The exchange will hit a milestone on Sunday morning at Joe Wolfe Field. But before then, the 79th game will be played at Alcombright Field on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
The Saturday game follows a cookout at Clarksburg Field. The cookout gives the kids from each team a chance to mingle and introduce themselves, as well as form freindships before they get on the field.
"When I have the cookout, Boston [players] can't sit at one table and North Adams [players] at another," Canales said. "If there are three kids there from Boston, there has to be three kids from North Adams. I want the kids to mingle and meet each other."
Following the two-game set in North Adams, the teams will meet again in August in Boston's North End as part of the North End Street Festival. For many of the kids, it will be their first trip to Boston.
The team from North Adams is made up of two kids from the six Babe Ruth teams in town. This year the team will be made up of three 15 year olds, four 14 year olds and five 13 year olds.
The exchange is made possible by many sponsors from both the Berkshires and Boston. Every kid who attends the exchange does so cost-free.