to Williamsport a must for baseball purists
me first premise this column by stating that I currently
have a love, hate relationship with the game of baseball.
was a time when it was nothing but love fostered by trips
to Jarry Park to see the Montreal Expos; my grandfather's
attachment to the Cleveland Indians; and the 1975 Cincinnati
Reds, which, in case you aren't aware, were the greatest
team ever. But then the steroids scandal struck and Major
League baseball refused to erase Barry Binds ridiculous
homerun record off the books. In 2003, I swore off the
sport I love for good.
all that began to change, sort of, in 2009 when I started
coaching my two boys in Little League Baseball. Slowly
my love of the game started to come back, but sadly, not
my love of professional baseball.
real epiphany occurred in 2011. While lying on the beach
at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire with my two boys I started
reading a story about the Little League World Series in
Williamsport, Pennsylvania when it stuck me -- hey, why
not drive to Williamsport on the way back to Ottawa. it
was only a couple of hours out of the way.
the boys and I jumped in the car drove seven hours through
the night and arrived in Williamsport at six o'clock in
the morning. We stayed and watched a couple of games before
driving back to Ottawa. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough
to get me hooked.
next year I went back with my friend's son Sean, who I
used to coach in Little League, my buddy Rejean and his
son Yanick, who I also used to coach. We got to Williamsport
just in time to see Canada beat Mexico and stayed to watch
three more games over the next two days. I was over the
moon. Here was baseball in its purest sense. Played by
12- and 13-year-old kids from all over the world on their
very own field of dreams.
setting here, nestled in the hills of northern Pennsylvania
is magical. All the games are free. The concessions are
reasonably priced (hot dogs $2.50, hamburgers $4, a bottle
of Gatorade $3) and smoking and the drinking of any alcoholic
beverages is strictly prohibited.
of all, the games are only six innings long, or about
two hours, and the quality of baseball is superlative.
you come for the opening weekend like my friend's son
Sean and I did this year, you can watch four games a day.
On Saturday, the games started at noon, 3 p.m. 6 p.m.
and 8 p.m.
World Series is separated into an International bracket
with teams from Canada, Mexico, Panama, Japan, South Korea,
Curacao, Australia and Italy; and the United States bracket
which is made up of eight regional teams. The winner of
each bracket then gets to play in a winner take all championship
game on the closing Sunday.
year, Japan won it all for the fourth time since 2009.
This year, a team from Hastings, British Columbia beat
them in their opening game on Friday and we were there.
It was one of the greatest sports experiences of my life.
say Canada was the underdog going into the game was an
understatement. Japan had not lost their opening game
since 1965 and Canada had never beaten them at the Little
League World Series.
difference in the game was 13-year-old Loreto Siniscalchi
who used a 76 mph fastball to strike out 13 batters in
5 2/3 innings. In Little League baseball, home plate is
only 46 feet from the pitcher's mound compared to 60 feet
in Major League baseball, so a 76 mph fastball equates
to a 101 mph fastball in the big leagues. That's fast.
also hit a monster homerun to help his cause. The atmosphere
among the Canadian supporters at Volunteer Stadium was
Canada's next game is against South Korea on Monday and
Sean and I plan to be there to help cheer them on. Should
they win they will very likely play Panama in the International
semi-final on Wednesday with a shot at making Saturday's
final and a spot in the LLWS championship game on Sunday.
has never made it to the championship game, let alone
won it all. The plan is to drive back to Ottawa Monday
night, but if Canada makes the final you can bet your
life I'll be heading back to Williamsport to witness history
being made by a group of 12- and 13-year-olds from Hastings,
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