NORTH ADAMS -- For 22 years, the LaFesta Baseball Exchange has traveled a combined 12,754 miles to bring kids ages 13-15 together from two very different Massachusetts cities.
On Saturday night and Sunday morning, 13 Babe Ruth baseball players from North Adams and 12 from Boston's North End came together to play the 79th and 80th games of the exchange in North Adams.
"With the Boston team coming down you get to see a different team and meet different types of people," 15 year-old Adam LeClair said. "It's mostly not really about the baseball. It's just kind of getting together and making new friends and seeing what they are like."
The teams keep score of all the games, but when the game ends, half of the kids don't care about the outcome. But for the record, in game No. 79, the North End got the best of North Adams 23-10 at the Alcombright Complex. The teams played the historic 80th game at Joe Wolfe Field on Sunday. North End completed the weekend sweep with an 8-3 victory.
"I keep track of all the games and score, but that's not what it's about," founder George Canales said. "This is what it's about, bringing kids from different cities together. We have kids from the biggest city meeting kids from the smallest."
On Saturday, the North End team traveled to Clarksburg to meet the North Adams team for a pregame cookout.
"This is truly what it's all about," Canales said, as he watched a light-hearted game of
During the cookout the kids participated in games of Frisbee, basketball and even did a little pregame scouting with a wiffle ball game.
"It's really fun, you get to know other kids from the team," 14 year-old Logan Rumbolt said. "They're from a different part of the state, so you get to learn what they're doing down there.
"We got to sit around the table and talk about our experiences in baseball and just share stories."
North Adams coach Jason Card has been involved in the exchange consistently since 2001. He played on the North Adams team in 1996.
"It's really fun, it's for the kids," Card said. "It's an exchange program that brings kids from different ends of the state together. It's different neighborhoods, different life, but it's just baseball."
The exchange will switch venues on August 11 and head to the North End.
"[The North End team] doesn't really play in huge open fields like this," LeClair said. "They're in tight together, and they like coming out here to play. We get to go and play in a different place that's tight and closed in. I'm looking forward to it."
The experience of taking the team to Boston is one that has kept Card coming back to be a part of the East Coast's longest running exchange.
"It's culture shock almost," Card said. "These kids come out here and there is fields and just tons and tons of space. We'll get to go down there and be all jam-packed in. There will be heads flying everywhere. They're eyes are flying every where looking at everything. There is just so much going on.
"It's a lot of fun, and I wouldn't give it up for anything. I love doing this and it keeps me coming back."