Egon is still away so he has entrusted his column to several a/k/a Random.
The Little League World Series is underway in tiny Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with 9-to-12-year-old boys from across the globe gathering in the Little League complex there to meet and play baseball. Kids from Russia and Saudi Arabia join teams from Tokyo and Aguana (Guam), Mexico City, Altagracia (Venezuela) and Curaco (Netherlands Antilles) and others in a series of games that ends with the international champion facing the American champion for a true World Championship.
Little League was born in Williamsport in 1939, just as a local program, but really expanded post World War II, state-by-state across the US and in 1950 became international, with the addition of leagues at both ends of the Panama Canal. By 1956, there were over 4,000 chartered leagues and in 1957 and 1958 a team from Monterrey, Mexico was the first international title holder.
In 1960, Berlin became the first European team and in 1969 a Taiwanese team won their first of 17 Little League World Series titles. In 1989, Poland became the first Eastern Bloc nation to join with four chartered leagues, and by 1999 some 100 nations have chartered Little League programs. A huge complex is built in Kutno, Poland and this year they hosted teams from South Africa, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Russia, Ireland, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Austria, England, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Belgium in two European Regional qualifying tournaments.
So the deal for the next ten-days-to-two weeks in Williamsport is for the American teams from across the country that won sectional, divisional and regional tournaments to play each other, while the international teams play each other and the winning squads meet in the finals. The games have become so popular they are being nationally televised by ESPN, ESPN2 and the championship game by ABC
The kids are housed in barracks-like buildings that are air-conditioned and furnished with PlayStations, DVD players, televisions, VCR's and an old-fashioned ping-pong table. Each team receives 25 new aluminum bats, new batting helmets, gloves, wrist bands and baseball shoes to take home, and food is provided by Stouffer's Foods (there must be a couple of microwave ovens around), with gum from Bubblicious and candy from Snickers. (The Tallmadge, Ohio team sent out for double cheesburgers and fries from the local McDonalds, and I'm sure the pizza places are delivering, too.)
The most bizarre and gruesome sports story this week has been about baseball great Ted Williams, the last man to hit .400 (four hits in every ten at-bats) over the course of a season. Teddy Ballgame recently passed away and his family spent time in courts, with one daughter arguing he should be cremated and his ashes spread across the Florida Keys fishing spots he so dearly loved all his life, as stated in his will. The first-born son and another daughter produced a signed note that he was to be cyrogenically frozen, in case someone came up with a cure for old age somewhere in the future.
He is now Teddy Popsicle and I don't care to get into the details of what the lab rats are doing.
The blackout that covered most of the northern midwest and eastern US last Thursday somewhat affected baseball, with some players living in airports 27 hours; Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hit his 650th career home run, leaving him ten behind his godfather, ex-Giant Willie Mays for third place on the all-time list; and three teams are in the hunt for a place in the playoffs in both the American and National Central divisions, respectively.
Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' American Olympic hockey squad passed away in a car accident (Brooks also coached the French hockey team in the '98 Nagano Olympics) and baseball Hall of Famer Roy Campanella's (late of the Brooklyn - now Los Angeles - Dodgers) three Most Valuable Player Awards are going up for auction to fund a foundation that helps disadvantaged youths.
In other sordid American sports news, a college basketball coach told his players to lie to investigators about a slain teammate and was summarily fired and Bruce Springsteen is outdrawing baseball squads in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Detroit - he's playing sold-out dates in each of those towns' stadiums while the baseball teams in each only draw half-a-ballpark for their games.
So that's all from over here across the pond, this is several a/k/a random, hoping that Egon can get back online soon, saying over and out!