It’s Labor Day and I’m toiling feverishly over this hot keyboard. What I want to talk about is some great TV the past few weeks. Yeah, the oxymoron great TV.
If you didn’t watch any of the Little League World Series games you missed out on something special. I watched parts of probably six games including the last five innings of the final between Louisiana and Curacao. What impressed me was the play of the winning team from River Ridge, Louisiana. Their understanding of the game, the nuances of the position they played and the athleticism and sportsmanship from all of these 11 and mostly 12-year-old boys.
Major League baseball can take a lesson from LL play, how quickly the game progresses. Batters step into the box ready to hit. No fixing the batting glove, swinging the bat, messing with the batting helmet as the catcher sits there waiting. The pitcher gets the ball, checks the sign and delivers the pitch. No taking his hat off multiple times, rubbing the ball, landscaping the mound, kicking the rubber. And MLB wonders why games take three plus hours to complete.
I got a kick out of watching pint sized catchers frame the pitch and checking out the body language when he didn’t agree with the ump’s call. No arguments, just toss the ball to the pitcher, give the sign and get into his stance.
There were many notable fielding plays but one that was incredible was when the Louisiana third baseman made a Ken Caminiti type play going to his right, almost going to his knees and firing a rocket to first base for the out. It would not have been an out had the first baseman not stretched his 5’8” frame fully with his arm extended to have the throw beat the runner by a half step. This is what I mean saying they knew the nuances of their position. Had he not stretched as far as he could the runner would have beat the ball to the glove. They must have shown that replay three times.
And put this name in your future major league roster file: Reece Roussel who set a LLWS record for hits and another record for doubles. I believe his batting average of .789 had to be a record as well. Not even Ted Williams or Tony Gwynn had an average that high. That kid put his bat on the ball every time he stepped into the batter’s box.
This got me to remember what happened in the 1981 LLWS. Escondido National LL made the trip to Williamsport, PA as the West Champions. The first, and still only, team from Escondido to do so. Our local radio station KOWN carried the games from San Bernardino and had thousands of us listening to the broadcasts. Al Michael’s call at Lake Placid “do you believe in miracles?” could be heard around town. The fourteen boys almost became household names…Barboa, Brookes, Cardoza, Escalante, Esposito, Hobbs, Hopkins, Kinch: Gary and Kenny, Larrabee, Moran, Salisbury, Scales, Simpson, Villalobos and Coach Mike Pumar. Certainly a major highlight in our city’s history. They were recognized that year in the Jaycees Christmas Parade. Hard to believe it was 38 years ago.
I hate to end on a downer however I must say something about a great loss this city has suffered. The Roynon Museum is no longer an Escondido destination. About 10 years or so ago I had the pleasure of being the guest of Mr. Roynon at his home which was the original location of this amazing prehistoric collection. Listening to his enthusiastic description for about an hour was exhilarating as my mind went back to my grammar school (today’s middle school) trip to the Natural History Museum in NYC.
He entertained, nay educated grade school children for years until a neighbor complained about the school buses parked on the street which prompted his moving the museum to Grand Ave and now it is in a town I don’t care to remember. The big losers here are our children.