A Magical Summer Of Baseball
Wednesday - September 08, 2005
There has yet to be a more exciting finish in sports this year than the Ewa Beach Little League victory in the Little League World Series.
The game had all the elements of a passion play. The dominant returning champions, the under-dog challenger, a world stage and a nip-and-tuck contest culminating with a come-from-behind victory by the local heroes. Man, it was such fun.
The guidance and direction given by the coaching staff of this team of preteens was evidently stellar. My beautiful wife and I were so impressed with the demeanor, intensity and discipline of each player. I cannot stress how proud we were of their performances and the grace they exhibited in victory. There was no grandstanding, no smack talking and no un-sportsmanlike conduct to be seen. I wish the college and pro athletes would take a page from this untainted celebration of sport.
A chicken-skin moment for me was the Pennsylvania crowd, interspersed with a healthy Hawaii contingent, chanting, “USA! USA!” as this multi-ethnic group of young men represented our 50th state. It must have been inspirational and memorable for the young men on the field to hear such thunderous support from those on the Mainland. For many players, perhaps it was their first out-of-state trip. I know it can be daunting for some adults to travel to unknown parts of the Mainland, let alone a group of 11-12-year-olds. To be accepted and supported so vigorously is a testament to their performance and the “Aloha Spirit,” Pennsylvania style.
My heart was tinged with fleeting sadness for the pitcher from Curacao. What an incredible life lesson this young man is learning. He exhibited a maturity during the game which seemed somewhat out of place in such a small body. It was clear, as the game went into extra innings, that the resolve which served him well was deteriorating. The juxtaposition to the Hawaii pitcher, Vonn Feao, was palpable.
Feao was on a mission, and no pesky thing like a repeat champion team was going to get in his way. He thrived when the pressure was on. He is the kind of kid where if the game were basketball, he would demand to be given the ball for the last shot. Although he did not hit the winning homerun and get those accolades, it was his striking out the side in extra innings which set up the victory. This young man struck me as being the heart of this team.
The future is so bright for these young men. The life experience of competing and winning is indelible. Each and every one of these athletes can call upon this accomplishment and know what it’s like to establish an objective, work hard, perform and follow though. When the spotlight dims and the media finds the next celebre du jour, the 2005 World Champion Ewa Beach Little League team will forever remember a magical summer where they were the best, and will always be winners.
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