It was on a Saturday late in August and with laundry washing and drying and no energy to do much more the television guide showed that a Tennessee team were in a semifinal playoff game California team for the US Little League American World Series Championship game. Tuning in early, there was a short documentary about the team from Uganda that was playing for the first time ever. The narrator spoke of the efforts made to get the teams started showing the rough fields that these shoeless kids played on while further explaining the difficulty of getting to the point of them actually playing in the World Series here in the United States.
Documentation like birth certificates were hard to come by when the town that existed when the child was born was no longer there nor did the parents keep track of birth certificates. One player’s mother had cancer and he spoke of the difficulty in dealing with that and how he used it as an inspiration to play well. His play gave her respite and a change of focus if for only a little while. It is hard to conceive the difficult life these young boys face and the joy that must be brought to them with the game of baseball. Fans from all over United States cheered the Ugandans as they played and won their first game.
Before long it was on to the game between Tennessee and Petaluma who had a twelve-year-old pitcher who was 6′ 3″ and 183 pounds. It’s easy to imagine that birth certificate being checked more often than President Obama’s. That thought brought back memories of the time when our family was heavily involved in Little League. Unfortunately, all that involvement left a sour taste from the antics of some of those involved all of whom were the adults. The kids just came to play ball and have a good time. It was about learning to win and lose with grace and consideration of others’ feelings while learning about the game and being a team player.
While the players worked the game, their siblings slid down a steep hill on cardboard reminding us all that kids are still kids. Lorenzo Butler, number eight for the Tennessee team, was their star hitting three three-run home runs making it into Little League record books. The Petaluma team valiantly made a rousing come back from a 15-5 deficit in the final inning. They tied it up in a 15-15 tie in the bottom of the ninth at the nerve-wracking end of the game taking it into extra innings. By the end of the tenth, the score was 24-16 with a Tennessee win. It’s good to enjoy Little League again.
Didn’t want to leave you hanging so the final score of the Japan versus Tennessee game was 12-2 giving Japan the title of World Little League Champions, but the Tennessee team are champions as well.