Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Little League champs celebrated


Thousands line parade route to root for Ky. team

By James Bruggers
The Courier-Journal

        LOUISVILLE — Thousands of people lined Dixie Highway and gathered at Louisville Slugger Field Monday in a celebration of a Little League team that has stolen the hearts of Kentuckians.

        “Let's never forget it's all about these 12 boys right here,” Troy Osborne said at Slugger Field. Mr. Osborne is the father of player Zach Osborne and manager of the Valley Sports American team that defeated Japan, 1-0, to win the Little League World Series Aug. 25.

        The parade and Slugger Field event culminated a week of praise and congratulations that have been heaped on the players since their victory, including a homecoming gala at Cardinal Stadium Aug 26. that drew an estimated 10,000 fans.

        Monday's celebration began close to home — on the Valley Sports ball fields. Before each player and coach climbed onto Corvettes for his parade into the city, he was honored by Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson.

        U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, a Republican from Louisville, promised them that President George W. Bush would shake their hands first upon his arrival in Louisville Thursday, when he will campaigning on behalf of Ms. Northup.

        Before joining the parade, Ms. Northup told the players that they gave the United States something of which it can be very proud.

        Several members of the last Louisville-area team to play in the Little League World Series were on hand. Their year was 1965, and the team from Jeffersonville placed fourth, beating Japan but losing to Canada.

        Ray Leezor, a member of that team, told the boys they had done something truly special and that they “will have this moment forever.” He also said that their Little League experiences will help them excel in their lives as they mature and become adults.

        “I'm real proud of these kids,”said Troy Bennett, who chauffeured team star Aaron Alvey in a royal blue 2002 model. “It's a neat thing to be a part of.”

        Mr. Bennett said his teenage daughter was crushed when he insisted there wasn't room in the two-seat sports car for her to ride alone with Aaron. “She said he could sit on her lap.”

        Along the route, businesses displayed balloons and put up signs such as “Bring on the Yankees” or “Welcome Home World Champs.”

        As the team arrived at Slugger Field, cheers nearly drowned out recordings of Carly Simon's “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

        The coaches received red autographed boxing gloves from Louisville native and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

        The boys and their coaches went inside the baseball stadium, where they were introduced to several thousand cheering Louisville Bats fans.

        From the area of the pitchers mound, each player then simultaneously threw a baseball to a Bats player for the ceremonial “first pitches” of the minor league team's final regular-season home game.

        “We don't get this every day,” said Daryl Cheatham, the parent of Valley Sports League competitors who were not on the World Series championship team, but who has nonetheless followed and supported its exploits. “We're trying to enjoy the moment.”

       



Sports Stories
Coach going to bat for Hamilton team
Lone Star Sky rocked,then rolls in RD Cradle
Filly AB What A Runner Wins $2 million race
Injuries change Duval's career
- Little League champs celebrated
Louisville tries to regroup after opening loss
Kentucky takes giant step with upset of Louisville
Miami No. 1 in AP poll
No. 18 Southern Cal 24, Auburn 17
Duke students forget about hoops at least one week
Fans empathize with sagging Sampras
Masters Cup will be China's biggest pro sports event
Swingin' in the rain: Sampras gets past Rusedski
United States 106, Russia 82
Argentina 95, China 71

UC 36, TCU 29 (OT)
Daugherty: UC football
Hall scores TD in his debut
TCU-UC Stats
Reds 5, Cards 3
Reds Box, Runs
Ballpark's bluegrass nearly ready to grow
Lefebvre still swinging
Pirates coach mum on Rios benching
Braves 5, Pirates 1
Brewers, Cubs split doubleheader
Rangers 7, Astros 2
A's win 19th straight in dramatic fashion
Dodgers 19, Diamondbacks 1
Louisville 10, Indianapolis 2
DBs urged to feast on turnovers
Dillon, Spikes among six elected captains
Colts add Mungro to backfield
Schottenheimer says Chargers will win this year
Strahan bags new deal: seven years, $46 million
East meets West in Lakota battle
Girls tennis poll