The 2006 Little League World Series: Kids Are Showing The Way

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: August 24, 2006

CALIFORNIA—Four Years ago the Gray-Line wrote an article on the little men summer baseball league. Since then many things have changed. This year three inner city teams, predominately young African American and Latino males and females will be traveling to Pennsylvania to play one of the states own little league team in three exhibition games. Teams from Richmond, California and the Bronx, New York will be participating with a team from Wilkensburg, Lycoming County Pennsylvania. This is the first step to open the baseball doors to little African and Latino men and women.

Four years ago, about the same time, Americans watched on their local sports station how the intelligent Major League Management postponed yet another strike date until Aug 19, 2002. Major League Baseball and baseball fans remembered players saying that they did not want to strike and that they were making many concessions to the owners. Owners were saying that they were taking team contraction off the board.
It is now 2006 and Major League Baseball has changed very little. The rich Yankees are beating the semi-rich Boston Red Sox in the American League east pennant chase. It is a little surprise that the Billion dollar Dodgers and Mets are riding at the top of their respective divisions in the National League. As they say, “MONEY TALKS NOBODY WALKS”. Big teams with big profits win titles.

Four years ago sports fans were tired of the political and monetary bickering of major league millionaire players and major league owner billionaires. Major League Baseball has suffered because of the complete stubbornness of players, owners, and management. MLB has dropped from America’s number one sport to just bearly hanging on in the United States.
Baseball owners are still not willing to help baseball’s non-solvent teams. Owners were saying that they really wanted to help these indigent teams but they really wanted these teams to become bankrupt and disappear, as my Native American ancestors would say, in reality the owners were and still are speaking with a “forked tongue”.
The past two weeks in Williamsport, PA., the Little League Conference Playoffs finally began and would prove to America what true Baseball should be about. Having fun, making new friends, traveling to America’s East Coast (for foreign teams), and learning about the beautiful game of baseball. Maybe Major League Baseball should take note. This year’s Little League Championship Series included more teams from around the world than ever before. Baseball fans were seeing a rainbow on the baseball field. So unlike MLB’s World Series with only American and Canadian teams. Winning the Little League Championship just means more.
Four years ago an African and Latino American little men’s team from Harlem, New York City who were winners of the northeastern region made many Black Americans proud. Four years ago, these little baseball midgets became my all stars, my heroes. These little men made me smile and want to watch baseball again. These little baseball wizards had my full attention that night.
This wonderful baseball story from the northeast filled my living room with happiness and pride. Nobody gave them a chance, nobody knew whom these little African and Latino Americans were but this team impressed everyone.
Most baseball fans sat and watched this great little league team from Harlem. This small group of African and Latino American gentlemen played the game of their lives. You could see the thrill in their eyes. You could feel the joy in their hearts. You could share in the fact that they had even made it that far. When little second basemen Mr. Williams crossed home plate for the winning run on a pass ball, the Harlem Little League had just made history. They were the first predominately Black team to win a regional final. YOU GO, BOYS! This year it will not happen but at least there will be three American minority teams playing exhibition games in Williamsburg, PA, So there is new budding hope for the sport.
Four years ago those Harlem little sluggers did not have a New York State following until that special night. The State of New York did not even know these little men existed. Oh yes, Harlem knew about these guys because they tore up the City league that year.
Four years ago this courageous team did not have uniforms. Each player had to purchase his own to wear in the Little League World Series. Each player had to pay his own way to the regional finals. This process has changed because all equipment is donated from different local companies. This makes it easier for the little leaguers to concentrate on baseball and not spend their energy on fundraising or finding a way to Williamsburg.

Major leagues teams have forgotten how to play for fun. They should be playing the game just because they love the game. This is what most T-ball; Little League, Pony League, Legion League, and College players strive for; to improve this wonderful game of baseball, not to improve their net worth or baseball stock profile.
Owners have forgotten, players have forgotten, and yes, even the fans have forgotten that baseball is still just a game. Those young African and Latino American Harlem men reminded all of us of that. It is encouraging and a positive act for the Little League World Series committee to invite other inner city little league teams to participate in the competitive games. Giving these young Black and Latino men and woman an opportunity to be a part of one of the biggest events during the summer THE LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES..