Little League World Series

August 18, 2011 by staff 

Little League World SeriesLittle League World Series, To the cheers of thousands, the Big Sky All-Stars Little League team from Billings rode in a parade through downtown on Wednesday night to celebrate the Little League World Series participants.

The 12 players in his new gold and black uniforms, and three coaches got into a coach with the team of the Netherlands.

Each of the eight teams in the United States joined an international team on a float in the parade of Grand Slam.

The team defeated Big Sky Bend, Oregon, 7-1 Saturday in the championship of the Northwest Regional in San Bernardino, California, to qualify for the Little League World Series. Big Sky plays the Midwest regional champions Rapid City, SD, on Thursday at 1 pm Mountain time. The All-Stars are the first Montana team to qualify for the World Series.

The parade included high school bands, fire trucks and police cars, community organizations and local businesses. But most of the applause was reserved for the players.

Among the crowd were parents of four players in Big Sky. Dani Kieckbush in the city’s daughter Alli was watching the floats go by Trish Carlson and Jody Sulser. Also present were David and Meredith Mehl, Dave’s mother, Karen Maehle, and supporters of Eric Billings Bjorgum and son Calvin.

The other parents were flying from Billings early Wednesday night so they could watch the game Thursday afternoon.

“None of us have seen the boys since the night he won in San Bernardino,” Sulser said, standing near the sidewalk street. “We’ll have to wave and blow kisses.”

“There they are!” He called the other parents when the float of the boys was half a block away.

The parents yelled and screamed when the boys pulled up next to them on the street.

Families managed to find hotel rooms, Sulser said, but many have to travel 30 to 70 miles closer, because the rooms were booked well in advance.

South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, swells to three times its population when it hosts the Little League World Series every August.

The city is home to about 6,500 people in the foothills of the Allegheny, on the south side of the Susquehanna River. The hills are full of trees and the weather is hot and humid.

South Williamsport Williamsport and adjacent population of over 29,000 may not contain all the visitors. Hotels have been booked for months.

The teams and their coaches stay four bedrooms in the complex terrain, with four teams of a building. The agreement allows the team to meet children from other states and countries, said Steve Barr, director of media relations for Little League Baseball and Softball.

“They’re going to collide a little, and that’s how to start sharing stories, sharing needles and make friends,” said Barr. “That may be bigger than the games plenty of times.”

Things were going smoothly on Wednesday, the day before the opening of the series. Officials met with the coaches a couple of times, Barr said, and everything in the field, including grants, is ready.

“I think things are progressing normally and everything will be ready for the opening ceremony,” said Barr.

Admission and parking are free of the games and the first few days may attract anywhere from 25,000 to 40,000 people.

The figures could soar on the evening of Friday, when the Keystone Little League team, 30 miles from South Williamsport, makes its debut.

“We could have a lot of people here,” said Barr.

The team of Clinton County Keystone is the first local team in 42 years to reach the World Series.

“I know the city just goes crazy with the team,” he said. “It’s everything you can imagine a small town.”

This year will see 11 teams for the first time the World Series, said Barr, a number that is rare.

“Usually, to get a lot of leagues to do it again,” he said. “So it’s a bit more than normal, I think.”

The 75 and 80 employees at the headquarters of Little League in South Williamsport are busy during the month of August, the coordination of the games and all that that entails. Barr said the organization has about 100 employees worldwide, but has more than a million volunteers to keep up the Little League.

The only thing that Little League cannot coordinate the weather and a forecast is the possibility of some showers and thunderstorms on Thursday. However, Barr is not worried.

“I hope we will have a fun 11 days, and Mother Nature to cooperate and we will have a good tournament,” he said.

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