For the 18th consecutive year, the Palm Beach Challenge will bring collegiate, and international baseball players to Palm Beach County for nearly four weeks of competition. The event is produced by the Caribbean Baseball Organization in partnership with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and will be held at Santaluces Athletic Complex in Lantana from March 3-29.
Since its inception, the Palm Beach Challenge has grown from a collegiate baseball tournament for teams in the U.S. and Canada into a premier event for college teams, elite amateur teams, international sides, and minor league free agents. This year’s event features a collegiate division primarily composed of NCAA Division II and NAIA teams. Schools like Bryant & Stratton (New York), Bellevue (Nebraska), and Ave Maria (Florida) will square off in the event’s first weeks.
The amateur divisions in the tournament will feature teams from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and several teams from within Florida. The event has a long history of sending athletes to the professional ranks as 82 players that have played in the tournament went on to compete in Major League Baseball.
Each year, the tournament features a separate professional division comprised of minor league players from the independent leagues coming to the event in hopes of making another professional team the following year. Due to several changes within the minor league system, there will be a higher demand for spots this year in the Palm Beach Challenge. These MLB hopefuls will not only have the chance to keep playing for their dreams but will do so under the direction of some veteran baseball minds including four-time MLB All-Star Ruben Sierra, 13-year MLB player Orlando Merced, and former Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson.
The event’s home, Santaluces Athletic Complex, is one of Palm Beach County’s finest sports facilities for baseball and beyond. As the former Spring Training site of the Montreal Expos, the complex is ideally suited for professional-level baseball. The complex, owned and operated by Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation, contains four lighted, professionally manicured fields of professional dimensions of 325/400/325 from left field to right field. It also offers two professional batting cage tunnels, a covered seating area, and a convenient concession area. Prominent events and tourneys such as USA Baseball, and the Perfect Game WWBA Championship have all called Santaluces their reliable home. It also houses a bicycle path, a fishing pier, and an Aquatic Complex with an eight-lane, 60-by-75-foot pool fit for diving and swimming competitions.
The event has implemented a comprehensive Covid-19 safety plan to help reduce the spread of the virus. Mask wearing and social distancing will be required for all attendees, save for presently competing players. Attendance has been capped at 100 spectators per day.
Admission is just five dollars and includes all eight of the daily games. For those unable to attend in person, many of the games will stream live on the Caribbean Baseball Organization’s YouTube page. For questions about the event, please call (786) 318-8403.