Newberry’s World Series run

The scenario is the same every summer. The regular Little League Baseball season ends, leagues pick all-star teams and they start competing.

But only once has this annual passion play for 11- and 12-year-olds resulted in a Williamsport team making it all the way to Howard J. Lamade Stadium for the Little League World Series.

The Newberry Little League all-stars gripped our city and Lycoming County 50 years ago with their magical run that, a half century later, they correctly label a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In 1969, gripping the area meant people taking transistor radios to work to follow the games as the team advanced from district to section to regional to state to eastern regional competition. It meant digesting every word of every story in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette about the team.

For the players, the trail to Lamade included trips out of town on a bus, a very big deal in 1969.

But the best bus trip was the one that brought them home from the Eastern Regional where they secured their World Series berth. They received a police escort from Danville to the Newberry Little League field, where thousands of supporters — with car flood lights illuminating the nighttime homecoming — greeted them like conquering heroes.

In the Facebook, reality television age we live in, it’s easy to forget this team did not even have all-star uniforms, wearing their regular season team uniforms, with only their hats saying who they were — Newberry.

What they had, though, was pitching and defense and timely hitting and steady leadership in Manager Fred Heaps.

What they delivered was the very best of what team sports can deliver — a timeless experience for the players that means even more to them now, a half century later.

And for the community, they delivered the kind of galvanizing fever of unity that only sports are capable of, joining generations in 1969, a year when our country was divided on so many levels.

Everyone — players, coaches, parents, fans and residents — got a memory that only glistens more brightly in the clear light of history 50 years later.

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