Little League teams across the country and around the globe dream of earning a trip to the Pennsylvania town, home of the Little League World Series. With Clinton County's win over Paramus, N.J., the region and the state will be even more excited to follow this year's tournament, which is arguably the most prestigious youth sporting event in the world.
Star U.S. players who pace their teams to the Little League World Series title typically earn a spot on the "David Letterman Show," not to mention "Sportscenter" highlights and national newspaper headlines. U.S. champions even get invitations to the White House.
Lock Haven's Mid-Atlantic Region champs will join seven other U.S. teams and eight international squads for a youth tournament that shines a spotlight on sportsmanship. Coaches feel a special camaraderie, even if they can't always understand each other. From all corners of the globe, they share the language of baseball, and the special experiences that come with the summer-long quest for the coveted championship.
"Out" and "safe" are easy to decipher no matter where in the world you live, from Europe to the Caribbean, Japan to Mexico, and sea to shining sea.
The fan following for the Pennsylvania squad should be phenomenal: it's less than a half-hour drive from Lock Haven to South Williamsport, where the city rolls out the red carpet for the baseball crowd. Banners line the streets welcoming their honored guests, and youngsters will line the fences hoping to catch a home run ball. Local fans who make the annual trip will undoubtedly adopt Lock Haven and root, root, root for the "home" team. If you've never enjoyed the tournament yourself, this is the summer to go.
The boys from Lock Haven, Clinton County, won the Little League World Series in 1948, a decade before international teams were part of the tournament. The historic squad's black and white team photo is immortalized as part of the Little League Museum, along with aged film footage that shows Lock Haven's portly catcher greeting opponents crossing home plate with enthusiastic handshakes. The classy gesture was noted by the sports reporters of the day, describing in detail the exciting action for their local newspaper readers.
Sixty-three years later, the equipment is more modern; the photos are digital, full-color and high-definition; and the day's highlights are not only recounted on ESPN, but are broadcast live and updated by the minute online. Lock Haven's win on Monday prompted its local newspaper to print a special edition, destined for hundreds of frames and scrapbooks.
Experts say the Clinton County kids have the talent to win it all, but no matter what happens, they have given their county and their region a magical summer to remember.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.