There’s a buzz in the air, and it’s centered in the town of Williamsport, Penn.
Every August, millions of eyes cast their way towards the Northeastern town as it hosts the best Little League teams from around the world.
It’s a true Little League World Series as 16 teams from the US, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and other countries will battle it out to determine who has the best group of youth baseball players.
Little League was what I played most growing up. I did give basketball a try, but picture Manu Ginobili with far fewer skills. Okay, the only thing I had in common with the future hall of famer was floppy black hair, but I still gave it a try and was not very good.
But on the baseball diamond, I wasn’t too shabby.
Playing in Williamsport wasn’t really on my list of things to do as a kid. I actually pretended to be playing the majors, a member of the Atlanta Braves or Chicago Cubs because those were the teams on TV the most when I was growing up, but I took my Little League responsibilities seriously.
When I was 12 I finally had my all-star season. My hitting, fielding and base running, such as it was, turned me into a well-rounded player and the other coaches took notice, electing me to the Del Rio National Little League All-Star team. Clad in red and gray, myself and my teammates, which included fellow News-Herald employee Rolando Cardenas, set out to win the district tournament in our home town and advance to whatever the next step was.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. We lost in the championship game to Crystal City. I had only two at-bats during the tournament and I think that experience soured me on playing organized sports going forward.
I do regret not playing baseball in Babe Ruth or high school, but I didn’t miss out on too much I guess. I turned out pretty well.
A few years later I got the chance to meet some gentlemen who actually did what my teammates and I couldn’t do – play in the Little League World Series.
Seven years ago, I was invited to attend the 50th anniversary of the Val Verde County Little League team that made it all the way to Williamsport and took on the world.
They lost only one game in that tournament, but the format back then prohibited them from winning the title.
Seeing that memorabilia from the 1962 series, including the cowboy outfits the team had to wear, was beyond cool. Listening to their stories of meeting baseball legend Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson was amazing because they all came from our little town of Del Rio and they held their own against the big boys from cities with far greater populations.
That team should always remind us that even our wildest dreams can be achieved.
There’s nothing to say the players from the next great Little League team from Del Rio isn’t kicking up the dirt, tossing a ball around in their backyard right now, dreaming of their time in the spotlight.
Brian Argabright is the sports editor at the Del Rio News-Herald, where he has worked for the last 22 years.