Louisiana gets to celebrate
In an event where everybody wins, the kids from River Ridge, Louisiana, were the ultimate winners of the Little League World Series, defeating the team from Willemstad, Curacao, this past Sunday to take the championship.
In winning the title, the champs achieved a couple of firsts. They became the first Louisiana team to win the world title. And they became the first team since the Series expanded to 16 teams in 2001 to lose its first game and come back to win the championship.
The Louisiana kids will never forget their triumphant champions run around Howard J. Lamade Stadium in the sparkling, late afternoon sun. That memory is theirs and theirs alone.
But all of them and all of us will remember the world-class parade that introduced the Series participants and our community to each other.
Or the visits from Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Lee Smith.
Or the visit from the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates for the Major League Baseball Classic.
Or the joyful slide down the second bank at Lamade Stadium on cardboard that is a sight not available at any other major sporting event of which we know.
Or the kid that crouched in the batters box like a catcher to make it nearly impossible to throw him a strike — though the pitcher did. Or the sportsmanship that was across-the-board and instructive to competitors of all ages.
The Series — our community treasure that we annually present to the world — never fails to produce.
And it will produce more in the future. Plans were announced to expand the field from 16 to 20 teams by the 75th year in 2021, with two international and two American regions added. A $15 million renovation project at the complex also will be completed by then.
Bigger does not mean the Series will lose what makes it a one-of-a-kind event. Don’t believe us? Consider the thoughts of Karl Ravech, the chief play- by-play voice of ESPN for several years at the Series.
He gets to be part of the network’s coverage of this Series, the College World Series and Major League Baseball’s World Series.
He says the tournament in quaint South Williamsport is his favorite to cover.
He gets it. And so do we.