Lions High School Baseball Tournament
The Lions High School Baseball Tournament is the oldest and largest High School Tourney in the United States. Founded by Mike Morrow and Les Cassie in 1951, the tournament has been held, rain or shine, every year since! Originally the tournament fields were limited to just San Diego County High Schools and a few nearby towns, but as the number of teams participating has grown, so has the number of fields used. La Jolla High School won the first tournament, and the trophies were presented at the Army and Navy YMCA with members of the Padres in attendance.
In 1953, 24 teams entered the tournament and several other local Lions Clubs assisted with both staffing and funding. By 1954, the tournament championship game had been promoted to a Padre’s doubleheader at Lane Field! The 1955 tournament was canceled because of rain and since then local churches have been enlisted for weather prayers and the event has not been canceled again!
By 1960, 25 high school teams from around the United States participated. The tournament celebrated its 25th year and there were efforts to increase the support to a district-wide committee. Sadly this venture faltered and the Downtown San Diego Lions Club regained control of the effort.
Judge Pete Gallagher, a long-time baseball aficionado, took the reins from Jim in 2003, and currently, an average of 130 high school teams participate. Pete also instituted a Coaches Dinner, hosted at and by the Downtown Lions Club, where Padre players and Baseball Officials share stories with the Coaches over steaks and libations.
The increased participation in the Baseball Tournament requires six levels of completion governed by school enrollment and that continues today. The tournament has become a hallmark of San Diego baseball and many Major League stars have grown out of the competition!
Today, the San Diego Lions Tournament is ranked as the fourth best in the nation just behind the Boras Tourney and the National Invitational in South Carolina and MaxPreps ranked the tournament Number 5 in the United States. More details can be found at LionsBaseball.