Little League Baseball announced this past week that they had decided to cancel the 2020 Little League World Series for the first time since the tournament began in 1947, in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has caused havoc across the globe.
While league officials have not cancelled the 2020 Little League regular season all-together, with hopes that some leagues can resume play later this summer as some state’s and localities lighten restrictions.
But for the majority of Little Leaguers’ across the globe, they will likely not get to play any baseball this year and will miss out on an entire years worth of playing America’s favorite pastime and memories that will stick with them for a lifetime.
Hearing that news got me thinking back to my time as a little leaguer and reminiscing on just how many great memories I made during those times on the diamond.
I was lucky enough to be able to play Little League Baseball at Brother Reid Park in Williamson from the age of five to 12 years old and ,as I’ve already said, made several memories that hopefully will remain with me for the rest of my lifetime.
But if I had to pick a favorite memory from my little league days, you would have to go back to the summer of the year 2000, when I was at the ripe age of eight years old as a member of the Williamson tee-ball all-stars.
I was in my final year of tee-ball at the time and after the regular season ended, was one of 12-players lucky enough to be selected for the all-stars.
The team was made up of myself, Zachary Hagaman, Ryan Hatfield, Jeremy Maynard, Anthony Strother II, Ryan Diamond, Christopher Cline, Meghan Staten, Josiah Mounts, Jacob Staton, Christopher Tackett, and Dustin Marcum and we were lucky enough to host the Area 1 tournament at Brother Reid Park.
We rolled through our first two games defeating the Red Jacket all-stars 19-0 and then rolling past Lenore 26-2. We then played the Holden all-stars and knocked them off fairly easily winning by a final of 20-12 to advance to the championship round.
Holden battled through the losers bracket and we played them again in the championship, needing just one win to advance to the District Tournament, while Holden needed to beat us two times to advance.
The Logan County stars had us dead-to-rights in the next game and nearly forced that second game for a winner-take-all championship as we trailed 13-9 heading into the 6th inning, but we were able to mount a furious rally and won 14-13 on a walk-off hit by Jeremy Maynard.
Now with a 4-0 record, we advanced onto the next round which was the District 2 Tournament held at the Chapmanville Little League Field.
In the tee-ball division, their is no State Tournament Regional round, so to us this District 2 Tournament was the World Series.
We began the tournament where we left off in Williamson as we rolled past Welch 20-1 in the opening game and got off to a hot start. Game two was a different story however, as we suffered our first defeat 13-8 to the Logan all-stars.
After suffering our first loss and falling into the loser’s bracket, we had our backs against the wall.
As 6-8 year-old kids, we could have easily given-up and went on with our summer.
But our coaches, which were made up of Brian Haney, Timmy Diamond, Rush Cline, and my Dad, Darrin McCormick, kept us locked in heading into an elimination game against a talented Pineville team.
Luckily our focus paid off as we were able to squeak out an 18-17 win against the Wyoming County foe in thrilling fashion to advance onto the championship for a re-match against Logan.
Since we already suffered a loss earlier in the tournament, we needed to defeat the Wildcats two times to claim the District title, while they just needed to defeat us once to claim the championship.
The Logan faithful were so confident that they were going to bring home the crown that they had a cake made prior to the championship round, congratulating their Wildcats for winning the District Championship.
They nearly secured the crown in our first re-match as they had us on the ropes late in the game, but somehow we found a way to scrape out a 17-16 win once again in thrilling walk-off fashion.
With the win, we forced a second match-up with the winner taking all the marbles.
We returned to Chapmanville the next day and with all the momentum now on our side cruised to a 14-6 win over the Wildcats to complete our dream of becoming District 2 Champions.
My late grandpa Benny Fleming was confined to a wheel-chair throughout my lifetime, but was at almost all of my games growing up, particularly in baseball season.
That year was no different as he was there when we clinched the championship, and he decided to celebrate by going over and asking the Logan parents for a piece of their championship cake.
It is safe to say, they weren’t too pleased and he didn’t get a slice of the cake.
This is just one of the many fond memories from my Little League days and thanks to my loving mothers countless hours of scrap booking all of the old newspaper clippings from that year, is one that I can re-visit from time-to-time with great detail.
I’m sure a lot of you also have many great memories from carelessly roaming a baseball diamond as a youngster, but what is your favorite memory?