I have never been much of a sports fan. I was worthless as a sports player of any kind (you know—-the last one chosen for the team?) I liked the basketball games at Elmhurst, and I do admit that I liked UK a lot, but when we lost Rick Pitino, my interest lagged.
So, it will come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, when I heard that I had better watch these boys play! Now, mind you, I have never in my life watched a Little League Game, but I flipped the channel to CBS (also ESPN carried the games). At the time I tuned in, I watched the incredible Aaron Alvey pitch a fastball that looked like it had been shot out of a cannon. That was the beginning, for me. They went on to win the World Series in Little League Baseball. I watched every game after the first one I tuned in to. They beat the South Americans (everyone said : no way). I watched as they beat Harlem. (everyone said: no way!) I watched them win and win and win!! This town was set on fire. Every restaurant that had a TV in it had a gathering. They flashed the cameras over the onlookers from the town, and it was obvious to me that this was one of the most thrilling moments of their lives. Yes, we have Mohammad Ali, Darrell Griffith, Paul Hornung and other celebrities from Louisville, but THESE were LITTLE 12 YEAR OLD KIDS! (one was eleven!) It was the chance of a lifetime and they fulfilled their dream right in front of millions of people who said it couldn’t be done!
See, these kids come from the South End of Louisville. These kids were not the affluent. These kids didn’t have a nice stadium, money, or uniforms and shoes that all matched, NOPE. What these kids had was heart and a love of baseball. They had no money, no prospect of being heroes, no egos, nor arrogance. To every adult to whom they spoke, they ended with ma’am or sir. They looked the coach square in the eye when he talked to them. Their courtesy was commented on again and again by the announcers. I couldn’t have been prouder of them if they had been my own sons or grandsons. At one point they only had $200 left and a call went out to Louisvillians to help. Little League pays for the kid’s basics, but the moms and dads and grandparents were going to have to sleep out on the ground! Nobody expected them to be like the EverReady batteries. Who would have dreamed it? But they just kept winning. I think one of the most touching parts of the whole thing was when they won the World Championship, they didn’t jump around screaming like banchees. They went to the Japanese boys and hugged them and said words we could not hear. One of our boys was wiping tears, and when questioned by an announcer if they were tears of happiness, he said, “no sir, I just hate that the Japanese had to lose in order for us to win.” The Louisville Little Leaguers talked to their coach, the Japanese coach was consulted, and it was granted that the Japanese Little Leaguers would march the field beside our boys. There are some things you just never forget in life and, for me, this is one of them. There was a huge celebration when they finally got home to Louisville. The boys were shy, tired, and a bit bewildered. Most were at a loss at to what to say on being interviewed. One of them said they weren’t better than the Japanese, they just won a game. After all, these were just a bunch of preteens who loved to play ball.
As I watched these fine boys reach for the stars, I remembered a quote that goes something like this: It is not the fleetest nor the best that win the triumphs of life, but the one that humbles himself to believe that impossible things are possible.
God bless these humble boys. They are so precious.
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