"It was actually started by 'Cookie' Koski and Boosta Stanaway. They were playing up in Hermansville, in a Hermansville Tournament and they had to play late in the morning on a weekday. So they decided they were going to start their own tournament," said John Basolo, NIT Director.
Just two men, and a bunch of ideas. That's all it took for the Negaunee Invitational Tournament to take off. Tournament Director John Basolo said it's incredible how it's evolved since its inception in 1965.
"The caliber of players is very good. The 1965 crew was very good players but it seems like over the years the athletes have gotten stronger and faster," said Basolo.
In the beginning, there was only two classes of play. Now, there are nine classes, including a Women's Division and a 45 and Older Division!
Long-time fans say they stick around because of the excitement, friendship, and the love of the game.
"We have a special team, coming up from Traverse City, Louis Construction. And they've been, we've always been fans for that team," said Joseph Paris, a long-time NIT fan.
"We root a lot for them. We've met many good friends and ball players and have had good times here," said Paul Jandron, who's been a player, an official, and now a fan.
And all are welcome, whether as fans or players. If you want to play, just form a team and sign up. Basolo says the NIT draw people from all over!
"We get a lot of teams that just pick up their buddies and play. Or members that have moved away, they come up and play on the weekend if it's a weekend tournament for them," said Basolo.
The NIT started on March 22nd this year. There are games every weekend through April 27th.
If you need more information about the NIT, or want to check out the brackets, click here.