Normally this Saturday, championship weekend at the Little League World Series, we would have arrived at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, PA very early to set up our chairs on the hill. For years we've stayed over there for the last several days of the series and just lost ourselves in the purest form of baseball and happy children.
The last couple of years we went, though, the crowds had grown so large that we came back to our chairs near game time to find them in a sea of chairs and blankets and running, hyper kids. You'd fall over six people trying to get out to the rest room or concession stand, and another six on the way back. And after the rain we've been having since yesterday afternoon, I'm sure the hill is slippery and muddy. This year we decided to watch on TV.
Having said all that, I encourage anyone who loves baseball and/or children to go to the Little League World Series at least once in their lifetime. The complex is magically transformed into a community of people who smile and laugh and have a wonderful time. They watch 16 teams from around the world compete. The baseball skills are amazing; sometimes it's hard to believe the kids are only 11-13, and the 13 year old kids must have had their 13th birthday after May 1st. The only time you remember their age is when there are a few tears because of an error or a loss, but shortly after the game those same kids are happy and having a great time again.
Admission is free - that's right, free! Parking in the complex lots is also free - free! Everything is handled efficiently by volunteers, people who do this year after year, and it runs like a well-oiled machine. That's why concession stand prices are so low you can take your whole family, eat well, trade pins, and see some good games. My husband has Parkinson's and I have COPD so in the last years we parked in handicapped parking, walked a short level distance to the security checkpoint, then were shuttled up a steep hill in a bus or golf cart to the stadium.
We loved to see the mascot, Dugout, getting the players and umpires dancing on the field. By the way, those officials are also volunteers who pay their own way. The Williamsport newspaper puts out special editions each day of the series and kids wander the complex yelling, "Little League Extra. 50 cents!" One year we had to laugh at a very small boy whose older brother had conned him into selling the papers for him. The boy couldn't pronounce it right, so he yelled "Wittle Weague Exta Fitty Cent." I think he sold more papers than anyone else - smart brother.
Well, today we'll settle down in front of the TV to watch Texas play California for the U.S. championship, and Mexico play Chinese Taipei in the foreign championship. Tomorrow the winners of those games will play for the overall championship and the weather is supposed to be perfect. We'll wish we were there but must admit it's more comfortable watching from home. We still have our memories.