Little League Legacy

7 Apr

I think I have established that I fashion myself as an average guy.  In case you haven’t bought in yet, let me add that I coach little league baseball.  Practices have just begun and the first “controversy” is upon us.

The rosters have been established and it appears that we came up a bit short in terms of the number of league all-stars assigned to our team.  The friends I coach with are ready to riot and have already combed through the league rule book to see if we could get away with  giving Danny Almonte a call.

As far as I am concerned, this gives me an opportunity to re-create history.  You guessed it, the Georgetown Little League, Cinderella story, of Speedway Auto Sales.

It was 1985.  Back to The Future was atop the box office, the Chicago Bears were doing the Super Bowl Shuffle, and the original We Are The World was recorded.

Life was good.  I was eight years old and ready for my first year of Little League Baseball. Unbeknown to me, Little League was going to teach me a bit of a life lesson.

We were scheduled to play 18 regular season games and then play in a season ending tournament.  My twin brother and I dominated tee-ball, so we both figured baseball would be easy.  The regular season did not go as we expected.

Loss after loss began to pile up.  My dad, who was the coach, quickly discovered that I didn’t take losing very well.  I am positive that I still hold the Georgetown Little League record for consecutive game crying fits in one season.

I don’t recall how my dad dealt with my melt downs, but I am amazed to this day that he didn’t drive me to the nearest orphanage and leave me in the driveway.  Had he had access to the internet, I’m sure he would have shown me this classic speech:

Tom Hanks’ work in this movie is one of the most under rated performances in a baseball movie ever. 

“Avoid the clap, Jimmy Dugon.  Gee Thanks!”  “That’s good advice!”

Upon the completion of the regular season, our record was 0-18.  In this day and age, “concerned” parents would have pulled their kids out of the tournament to protect their fragile self-esteem.  Not our parents. We were expected to finish the season and play in the tournament.

Our first game was against the Water Bed Experience.  

By the way, whatever happened to water beds?  I don’t think I have seen one in ages.  Obviously in the 80’s they were pretty popular because there were stores that specialized in them.

I don’t remember much about this team except for the fact that they had extremely bright orange jerseys and hats.  We took the field ready for our drubbing and sub sequential bounce out of the tournament.  However, something crazy happened.  We managed to make the game competitive.

As the game continued, our little minds started to believe we had a chance at winning.  The game drew near a conclusion and we took the lead in the last inning.  It was a miracle.  All that we needed were three outs and we would have our first win.

Fate would have it, there would be no come back for The Water Bed Experience.  We secured the victory and proceeded to run around the field like we had just won the seventh game of the World Series.

We were on top of the world.  My post game Pepsi with crushed ice never tasted sweeter.

At this point, we had nothing to lose.  We had already won more game in the tournament than the entire league expected.  Our next opponent was the first place team in the regular season, Fort Wayne National Bank.

They had quite the stellar lineup, including a fireball throwing righty named Shawn, who happened to be a girl.  We were a completely different team, playing in a game that we never thought we would be in.  This one was a close contest as well.

Speedway could not be denied!  We put away the regular season champs granting us a birth in the championship game against Roth Werley Realtors.

There are a couple of details that stick out in my mind about the championship game.  The Roth Werley coach had one of the coolest jackets ever.  It was a replica New York Knights jacket from the movie The Natural.   The second detail is that the game was held on the major league field, the home of the 10-12 year olds that played in the league above us.

This game was similar in the fact that it was close.  Both teams battled back and forth in an epic battle of David versus Goliath.  We took a 7-6 lead into the last inning.

I have a vividly clear memory of the last out of the game.  I was playing third base and the batter hit a towering pop fly to our shortstop.   In my memory, it seems as though the ball hung up in the air long enough for he and I to have a lengthy conversation.

Eventually, the ball came down into his glove and we were improbable minor league champions.  The rest is a blur.  We ran around the field like maniacs once again and I am pretty sure there was a pizza party at some point afterward.

The icing on the cake came later that night.  My dad sat us down and made sure we watched the local news.  At the end of the telecast, our local sports anchor shared with the city our fairy tale ending, pointing out our 0-18 record.  He even gave us a “heck, heck of a job out there guys” to sign off.

There you have it.  The tale of Speedway Auto Sales.  A child hood memory that serves as motivation for me, as my friends and I try to shock the local sports world at the little league field.


2 Responses to “Little League Legacy”

  1. Wojo April 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    >Thank you, brother AD. Little League is starting up out of our house soon as well.

  2. mtank April 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    >That's a great experience. That's the kind of season that I look for in all baseball, from MLB to Little League.

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