2012 Little League Baseball World Series
Williamsport, Pennsylvania - August 16 - 26


Day 9: Notebook

Little League Notebook

Tidbits From the Final stretch of The Little League World Series

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date: Friday, August 24, 2012

Little League Tattoo Shows Up at The Little League World Series With An Interesting Story
By Andrew Maksymowich

Do you know anyone with a Little League tattoo? Well now you do.

Pete Esquivel, also known as “Little League Pete," has a Little League tattoo on his left arm and has been involved in Little League for more than 40 years. He got the tattoo 11 years ago after being involved for so long.

“I figured it was time I get one since I’ve been around it forever,” Esquivel said.

Esquivel is originally from Barstow, Calif. and has been playing baseball since he was 5-years-old. He even has ties with the 1939 team of the Original League from Williamsport. The Original League was the baseball league prior to Little League.

Not only does Esquivel like to play baseball, but he has been volunteering at the Little League World Series for seven years now.

“I’ve been coming for 14 years now, but one day they asked me to help usher,” Esquivel said.

And he’s been helping out ever since. Plus he gets to see all of his friends from around the world. Before he ushered at the Little League World Series, he would always help out with the West Regional tournament.

He got the nickname "Little League Pete" for being more than just a fan of Little League. Esquivel has a miniature version of Lamade Stadium in a room in his house with the score board on the wall.

“Little League is all I know,” Esquivel said.

There's only two days left of the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, but keep an eye out for "Little League Pete" on the complex and who knows, maybe you’ll get to see his tattoo too!

Northwest Little Leaguers Make Debut on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays
By Lauren Gilbert

When asking a male, regardless of age, what their favorite television show is, there is a good chance the popular sports show on ESPN, SportsCenter, will come out of their mouths.

Maybe it’s because of all the awesome plays and games ESPN covers, or because they have the ability to watch the sports they love at any given time, but regardless, ESPN SportsCenter allows sports fanatics from all over the world to have access to game coverage and unforgettable plays, such as a completed hail mary pass from the New York Giants' Eli Manning to score the winning touchdown, a diving catch from the Philadelphia Phillies' Shane Victorino to end the inning or a half-court buzzer beater from the Miami Heat's LeBron James to send the game into overtime.

Though professional and college players are generally featured on ESPN SportsCenter, two Little League baseball players made their debut on the Top 10 plays this past week, as Northwest’s Hunter Hemenway and Christian Turner were featured for their unbelievable catches that had the crowd on their feet.

“Christian and Hunter were going crazy when they realized they were on ESPN SportsCenter,” said Tanner Hemenway, the older brother of Hunter. “They have grown up watching their role models on ESPN and have always dreamed of being on there.”

This dream has now become a reality.

Christian made an awesome diving catch in right field during one of this week’s games to make his debut. Hemenway's catch came during the game against Great Lakes last Friday. Great Lakes’ Jarrid Porter ripped a line drive down the third base line in an area where nine out of ten times it would be a hit, but Hunter stuck his glove up as a normal reaction and came away with the catch, ending the inning and robbing Porter of a hit.

However, as awesome as the catch was, Hemenway didn’t even realize he had it in his glove at first, which was evident by the huge smile that burst across his face when he realized it was in his glove and not out in left field.

“I didn’t know I caught the ball at first,” said Hemenway. “My dad and brother had just oiled my glove before the tournament and it went right into the big pocket without me feeling it.”

“I was so excited when I realized I had it,” he added.

Other players, fans and coaches were supportive of the great catch he made. Great Lakes third base coach Bret Mann immediately gave Hemenway a fist pound, and his teammates congratulated him in excitement on the awesome catch as they ran toward the dugout.

“It was a bang, bang play,” said Northwest’s Craig Hemenway, coach and father of Hunter. “It was pure reaction and he was able to get his glove up in time. It was exciting.”

Once the game ended, it never crossed anyone’s minds that the play would end up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. It wasn’t until parents called coach Hemenway from back at the hotel to say they had just seen Hunter on SportsCenter that the possibility started rolling.

“He was ecstatic when he realized he was on SportsCenter,” said Tanner Hemenway. “It was a special moment for him.”

However, it took some convincing for Hemenway to believe he was on SportsCenter, as he missed the original playing of it.

“I didn’t believe anyone at first. It wasn’t until my dad told me he saw it that I knew it was true,” Hemenway said. “It was an awesome feeling."

Other teams at the 2012 Little League World Series have had players make memorable, outstanding plays that landed on that night’s Top 10 countdown, as well. This is certainly something these boys will remember for the rest of their lives.

MLB Player Motivates Latin America Kids
By George Thompson

Imagine you are about to talk to a professional baseball player. How would you feel? Excited? Motivated to work harder at what you do knowing how hard the player must have worked to get where he is today?

Motivation is what one team felt when they had a conference call with Carlos Lee of the Florida Marlins at the Little League World Series Wednesday morning.

“They are very motivated seeing Carlos Lee in the big leagues,” Latin America manager Luis Gonzalez said while standing outside the Grove on Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, Carlos Lee reached out to the Latin America champs while in Arizona where his team is currently playing, expressing how proud of the team he was after watching some of their games during the Little League World Series.

“Carlos Lee gave motivation and praise to the kids,” Gonzalez said. “He’s very proud of them.”

Unfortunately, Latin America would lose their game that day against Tokyo, Japan, Little League, 4-1. Gonzalez said following the game, they held a team meeting to motivate the players for their elimination game the following day against the champs from Mexico, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Little League.

With their best pitcher Edisson Gonzalez on the mound, Latin America made Lee proud by beating Mexico, 2-1. During their very first series up at bat, Latin America jumped to a 2-0 lead off of an 2-run home run by James Gonzalez, which was all Latin America needed in this low scoring affair.

“It was a tough game for both sides, and then one pitch decide the game,” Gonzalez said.

With the win, Latin America earns a spot in the International championship game in a rematch against Japan, who they lost to once already. Gonzalez said he knows it is going to be a tough game, but he is confident his team can win. Whether they win or lose, they can be proud of themselves, knowing they have made one Major League Baseball player proud.

Mexico’s Manager Sits Out Games for Violation
By Samantha Ciccocioppo

On Monday night, it was announced that the manager of the Mexico champions from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Fernando Rios was suspended. The news came as a shock to most, wondering what the manager had done to receive such a punishment. As it turns out Fernando was in violation of not putting a player in rotation up to bat. Little League rules state that all players must bat in the order they are listed on the roster.

The news of Rios’ suspension came shortly after Mexico's win over the Asia-Pacific champions from Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, a close game, 4-3. However the team was up for another game on Tuesday, so there was little time to fret over this wild change in the coaching staff.

“I woke up this morning feeling worried about what would happen,” said now acting manager Cesar Mata. “But fortunately we all had a lot of trust in our kids. We talked in the dorms, we explained this very well to them and the kids were calm.”

The suspension of Rios means that he will not be allowed to attend the team’s games, but he can still attend practice.

The first game Rios was required to sit out was Tuesday’s game against the Caribbean champions from Willemstad, Curacao, in which Mexico was able to grasp a dominating 6-2 win. When asked how he felt about his first game as manager Mata said “I definitely feel happy, I feel great, I came here in 2010 but I was a coach, God blessed me with
a win!”

While some may think this is an uncommon occurrence in the realm of Little League, it simply is not so, at least not in this Series. Latin America team manager Luis Gonzalez had to sit out the first two games his team played in this years' Little League World Series. Wednesday’s loss against Japan was Gonzalez’s first game back with the team.

“I was very anxious to be back on the field, but the other coaches did a great job. So our next game (against Mexico) is going to be my first win of the Series,” said Gonzalez.

Latin America did in fact win against Mexico, 2-1, on Thursday to earn a berth in the International championship game against Japan on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.

Series Run Doesn't End After Elimination Game for Some Teams
By Jon Gerardi

There weren't any ESPN cameras set up anywhere at Volunteer Stadium on Wednesday or Thursday, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a game being played on those two days. Both days featured a game being played by two teams that had been eliminated at the Little League World Series in a unique sight, allowing a U.S. team face an International team.

These crossover games aren't a rarity during the Little League World Series, either. When it was a single elimination tournament, a loser of a U.S. game would face a loser of an international game. The Little League World Series then became a pool play tournament in 1992 and ever since, crossover games have been as common as kids sliding down the hill behind Lamade Stadium.

For the kids who are on teams that are eliminated early, it's a fun experience to be able to keep playing baseball with friends they've made in the Grove on the other teams during their time in South Williamsport.

“It’s still a Little League World Series game, but it’s a laid back atmosphere,” Little League Vice President of Communications Lance Van Auken said. “It’s just kind of a fun thing all the way around for the kids.”

All umpires for the crossover games are local ones from the Williamsport area, giving them a chance to umpire at the Little League World Series.

All the crossover games are determined by the kids and managers themselves, not Little League. After the two managers of the teams talk to a member of the Little League operations division, Little League sets the game up on the desired date they wish to play.

The crossover games in recent years have been played at Volunteer Stadium since the stadium isn't in use for games after the Tuesday, but in years past, the international championship and consolation games were played there. That meant crossover games had to be played in true sandlot fashion down at the practice fields, where there are no announcers or scoreboard.

At the Little League World Series, the players want to keep playing even if they've been eliminated, so crossover games aren't hard to find. Sometimes though the long All-Star tournament, which starts in late June, can take its toll on teams and send them packing up after their final game to head back home.

“It just is kind of a cyclical thing because some years, teams they're eliminated and they haven't been home in four weeks and the parents are tired and out of money and they just want to get everybody home and they leave as a team and the team doesn't end up playing a crossover game,” Van Auken said. “Just kind of sad that they don't get that whole experience of being able to play a team from other side of the planet. This year, it just seems like there's a lot more teams interested in it, which is good.”