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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2004-03-30

World Series Winner
By Melissa Lyttle, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Photo by Melissa Lyttle, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Photo by Melissa Lyttle, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

2003 POY: Everyone is a winner at the Little League World Series, as East Boynton Beach catcher Andrew Weaver (18) is thrown up in the air by the team Asia to celebrate a well-played Little League World Series championship game.
The thought of tagging around with a group of a dozen 12-year-old boys for three weeks wasn't exactly the first big out-of-state assignment I had in mind. But it was a big story for the paper, and it meant a lot to our community, so I was happy to accept the challenge.

The more I got to know the players, coaches and parents of the East Boynton Beach Little League team, the more compelled I felt to tell their story. They were such a nice group of people, who made it as far as they did because of the size of their hearts.

The players were cocky, but had the talent to back up their words. Their trademark was constantly being late to practice, goofing around like only a group of 12 year olds could, and then finding a way to pull out a win come game time.

The coaches were tough, but fair. Reprimanding the boys for slacking off, but making it clear that having fun is just as important as winning. And the parents put their lives on hold, and sacrificed their life savings to live out their dreams through their sons.

The U.S. Championship game against the team from Saugus, MA could have gone either way. Both teams showed some incredible skill both on the mound and at the plate, and I don't think it was until the boys from Boynton Beach won, that they realized what a huge accomplishment it was. They were, indeed, the best team in the United States, and no one could take that title away from them.

The next day was the World Championship game against team Asia and it was just icing on the cake. These kids were already heroes. They had won a lot of people over with a fearless style of play, had people tuning in at bars back home whenever they were on TV, they had groupies (read: 14-year-old girls) following them where ever they went, were signing autographs until their hands cramped up, and they were having the times of their lives up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Boynton Beach was overpowered by Asia in the championship game, and they ended up losing 10-1. But they played their best, and in the end, no one was disappointed in the outcome, not even the boys themselves. After Devon Travis was tagged out at second base in the bottom of the sixth and the game was officially over, the real fun began.

Team Asia ran into the outfield, and slid on their bellies in front of the outfield wall. Then they ran back toward home plate, first bowing to their fans, then bowing out of respect toward the East Boynton fans. And as tradition dictates, they joined in a big circle, and began throwing some of their players up in the air. But in the most incredible display of sportsmanship I've ever seen at any sporting event on any level, the Asian team motioned to the East Boynton team to come join them in the celebration.

Team Asia continued to not only throw their own players up in the air, but then they began picking up the East Boynton Beach players and throwing them sky high. Everyone was smiling. I couldn't help but smile, too. Because I couldn't help but think about the lessons a bunch of 12-year-old boys could teach the world. In a time when professional athletes are being stereotyped as spoiled babies with million-dollar egos, who seem to have forgotten that it's the fans that helped make them who they are, such an incredible show of sportsmanship seemed to be a perfect end to a pretty incredible Little League World Series experience.

And in the end, it really didn't matter who won or who lost, all played their hearts out and all had reason to celebrate.



Related Links:
Melissa Lyttle's member page

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