Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Aug. 30


 

Posted Aug. 22

Posted Aug. 23

Posted Aug. 15

bike trails

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney



 

 

 

 

Trip to Williamsport a must for baseball purists

Let me first premise this column by stating that I currently have a love, hate relationship with the game of baseball.

There 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.

But 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.

The 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.

So 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Best of all, the games are only six innings long, or about two hours, and the quality of baseball is superlative.

If 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.

The 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.

Last 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.

To 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.

The 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.

Siniscalchi also hit a monster homerun to help his cause. The atmosphere among the Canadian supporters at Volunteer Stadium was electric.

Team 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.

Canada 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, B.C.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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