Monday, May 28, 2012

P. A.'s LL World Series

Dare we ever forget?

That a team assembled in Clinton County became the state's Little League champs in August, 2011, then went on to win the regional contest beating teams from New York state and New Jersey. These Keystone Kids came from villages most Pennsylvanians have never heard of: Beech Creek, Mill Hall, Castanea, Blanchard, Monument, Marsh Creek, and Loganton.

There's something very right about this. It tells us small-town America still counts. We're reminded the backroads of our country can still produce excellence. That the crossroads of rural P. A. can make history glow brightly on the national map.

I live in Montana but remain tethered to P. A. Last summer, Billings, you may remember, sent a team to South Williamsport, the first-ever from Montana. Had Clinton County and the Billings All-Stars met  under the lights of Lamade Stadium . . . well, I would have gone up in smoke.  My Perfect Season.

Not long ago, I wrote of the spell cast by baseball in a novel entitled Return to Summers Run. My character tells us:

"Make such a memory you’ll want to bottle it, set it on the mantle, and let your grandkids get a whiff, the aroma, the sights, sounds of the crowd, the magic of it all. Because, there is a magic in baseball that’s unique, all its own. . . .
"You have a bat named 'Wonderboy', or you drive out to a cornfield in Iowa where legends from the past walk down the rows to again play like they used to years ago. Fictional, fantasy, yes of course, but there’s something about this game that inspires these flights of fancy." 

When we visit the Summer of Dreams the Keystone boys shared with us, we wonder what their futures hold and wish them well. For their brand of baseball brought growth, friendship, and the bittersweet farewell to boyhoods that will never come again. We've all lived some of it.

Jim Cotton
Stevensville, Montana 

My thanks to photographers Christopher Weddle and Abby Drey of the Centre Daily Times for providing the visuals for this backward glance.

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