The National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF) is the oldest continuously running amateur baseball organization in the country. It was founded in 1914, and in 2024, will celebrate its 110th anniversary.
Over the summer, NABF and the City of Knoxville, Tennessee reached an agreement for NABF to make Christenberry Park its home baseball complex. Donated funds from the NABF will be used to install turf infields on all four baseball/softball fields, new scoreboards, video boards, perimeter fencing, vendor area with shopping for players and families, multiple concession areas and other improvements.
Through the agreements, the NABF will host sanctioned tournaments and showcases for all age groups from 6U-18U and girls softball. In all, the NABF will utilize multiple parks and a total of 17 fields, all within a 30 minute drive. Work is already underway, and the complex is expected to host NABF play in the spring.
The NABF is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers, with regional and national championship tournaments held coast to coast. The organization hosts area regional tournaments and eight national championship series a year.
Tournaments for league members range from 10 and under through unlimited age divisions. Age groups and their classifications are as follows:
- (10 and under) Rookie Division
- (12 and under) Freshman Division
- (14 and under) Sophomore Division
- (16 and under) Junior Division
- (17 and under) High School Division
- (18 and under) Senior Division
- (22 and under) College Division
- (Unlimited age) Charles M. Blackburn Major Division
Sports Destination Management sat down with Buzz McNish, director of the organization’s high school division, to learn more about NABF and its plans for the future.
Sports Destination Management: You recently signed the agreement with Knoxville. How is this significant?
Buzz McNish: This is the first time in all our years that we have had an actual home complex.
SDM: What made you choose Knoxville?
McNish: We have hosted a number of tournaments here over the last 15 years and they have been well attended. Knoxville is easy to get to from just about anywhere in the USA; in fact, it is a short drive from a lot of major metropolitan areas. It’s interesting; a lot of times, you put on a tournament, and you only get people from a certain area. That wasn’t the case with Knoxville. There is a lot to see here: it’s close to Gatlinburg, Dollywood and the University of Tennessee isn’t that far off either. The city of Knoxville has always been very accommodating to us whenever we had a tournament here and was very involved in making the event a success.
SDM: Will all tournaments be held in Knoxville from now on?
McNish: Oh, no; we will still have tournaments across the country but now, we have a home complex.
SDM: What is your season?
McNish: We have events starting in March and running through October. We have our annual meeting in November but in general, the off-season is just downtime.
Note: A schedule of tournaments can be found here.
SDM: Does NABF use pitch clocks?
McNish: We don’t use pitch clocks; we do follow Major League Baseball’s pitching guidelines, though.
SDM: Any idea how many events you put on a year?
McNish: Because we have events going on all around the country, probably a thousand or more. In the complex we will be doing a lot of special events like college showcases so that coaches can scout players. We partner with Baseball Bluebook, which is a recruitment platform, so that athletes can build profiles for themselves and help themselves get scouted.
SDM: Have you had players make it to the pros?
McNish: Yes, we have. In fact, when we do the college showcase every year, there are always some pro scouts that come there as well.
SDM: What are your plans for the future?
McNish: We will be starting softball, and we will also be starting all-girls baseball at the lower level. In fact, one of USA Baseball’s big initiatives is girls’ baseball.
SDM: There are a lot of tournaments in the marketplace. What do you think NABF offers that makes it special?
McNish: We offer a lot of opportunities for teams to play baseball but we also keep things affordable. From Knoxville, there are going to be a lot of fun opportunities for people to explore in their spare time.
SDM: If destinations want to learn more about hosting NABF, who should they contact?
McNish: They can e-mail me at email@example.com.