Honolulu has the title, but Series had all winners

They came from 16 places on the world’s map, eight teams representing regions of the United States and 8 teams representing regions of the rest of the world.

By the late afternoon Sunday, the team from Honolulu, Hawaii, undefeated during the entire Little League World Series, went home with the hard-earned, much-deserved championship.

But as the kids returned to 16 corners of the globe, all of them took home lifetime-lasting prizes.

There were friendships that will last forever with people they never could have envisioned meeting a few weeks ago.

There were memories of meeting Major League Baseball players up close and sharing the camaraderie that is unique among athletes of all ages, levels and sports.

There was the unforgettable sportsmanship that we witnessed throughout the Series: Players doomed to elimination by a grand slam homer cheering the hitter as he rounded the bases; a pitcher who hit a batter meeting the hitter as he ran to first base, removing his cap and bowing in respect and apology when he got to the base; parents of the rival Peachtree, Ga., team taking up a collection for the Honolulu entourage to take back with them to their hurricane-ravaged area.

And there were, it seemed like, dozens of other moments of entertainment and joy and spontaneous emotion that can only come from kids on a world stage, growing up before our eyes in ways that will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Another late August champion has been crowned, the grass can replace the cardboard worn dirt on the second hill at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, our region can return to its treasured serenity that makes it so attractive in the first place.

Our worldwide attraction is more packaged than ever before, but the package is so breathtakingly human and fun amid a perfectly Norman Rockwell setting that no amount of contrivance can deflate its unsurpassed purity.

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