(LouisvilleBusinessFirst.com) - Brent Hall was sitting on his couch in Alabama when he received a phone call from a friend that would ultimately change the direction of his life.
On the other end of the line was former Major League Baseball star Adam LaRoche, who shared his dream of bringing together a stable of retired MLB players that could reignite their love for competitive baseball in meaningful games.
Hall — who has built a robust rolodex of professional sports contacts by hosting galas and concerts around the country for professional athletes' charitable foundations — went to work with LaRoche to assemble a team that played in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., in 2016 and 2017.
But the idea had longer legs, as LaRoche, Hall and others desired to spin-off their own baseball tournament that could put fans front and center with former MLB greats while also honoring and benefiting local causes.
Enter the Bluegrass World Series, an eight-team inaugural tournament announced earlier this year that will pit a roster of seasoned former MLB stars against seven collegiate teams from several states, including Indiana and Kentucky. The 14-game tournament will be held at Louisville Slugger Field July 30 to Aug. 4 (a few games will be played at the University of Louisville's Jim Patterson Stadium, Hall said).
The Louisville Stars, a team comprised of 35 retired major league players, is the headliner of this tournament. The Stars' manager is hall-of-fame catcher Johnny Bench, and other big names on the team include Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson, Jayson Werth, David Ross, Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Roy Oswalt, Louisville native Chris Burke and beloved former Louisville Bats and Cincinnati Reds catcher Corky Miller.
Click here for a full roster.
"This is competitive baseball," said Haleigh Hall, Brent Hall's daughter and a fellow tournament organizer, who has moved full-time to Louisville to help organize the event. "This isn't a photo signing with Johnny Damon and Chipper Jones."
Indeed, Brent Hall, who is the tournament's president, said he expects the collegians competing against the ex-MLB players to bring their best punches in hopes of boosting their own profiles against former greats.
In other words, don't expect a hokey exhibition.