All-Star a la Francaise

The Tour de France. Wimbledon. Trump in Paris. Parades. Fireworks. Who in the world — or, at least, in France — would be thinking baseball this July 14!

And yet, oodles of people are, because on this Bastille Day weekend, America’s National Pastime will be “storming” the city of La Rochelle.

La Rochelle, about to be “stormed”

Thanks to an All-Star Game and the arrival of an international baseball competition, this is the best baseball weekend of the year here.

Inspired by Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, for the second year and the second time in their history, les francais are bringing together the best players in their top league, D1.

But they're giving the game a twist: it will be the best French players against the top foreigners who are playing here. As with the Major League game, players are selected by fan voting. Naturally, there will also be a Home Run Derby.

All that, however, is only part of the program. The Collegiate Baseball League Europe (CBLE) also is taking advantage of the long holiday weekend of July 14–16 to land its West Division teams in La Rochelle for a round-robin competition.

The CBLE is a summer league designed as a training ground for top college players hoping to move on to professional careers. It is set up in minor league baseball style and funnels its top competitors into the huge Northwoods League, another but more sophisticated training ground for Major League prospects.

The CBLE will also get in the holiday spirit and put together a team of its own all-stars to play against the French national team.

Youngsters will also be taking part in this non-stop, three-day weekend extravaganza. Perhaps France’s baseball gurus have been hearing echoes of the advice Bill Lange, an old Chicago Colts player, gave in 1895: “The sport won’t ever be the rage in France until the ten-cent ball and the ten-year-old kid are properly introduced.”

Since 2009, French baseball has seen a 50 percent growth in the number of players, according to French baseball federation president Didier Seminet. Combined with that good news, a weekend like this may mean that France is finally about to realize the potential A.G. Spalding saw when he made the pronouncement that France would be the next great baseball nation.

As a result, there should be enough "fireworks" on the fields that players and spectators won't mind missing those at the Eiffel Tower.

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