Television doesn't do justice to the Little League World Series.
Don't get me wrong: ABC and ESPN's broadcasts have been wonderful for years, with ever-improving production quality and big-time announcers.
But viewers watching the action from their couches and recliners don't know what they're missing. They get little sense of what this annual celebration of youth baseball means to north-central Pennsylvania and to Williamsport, whose 30,000 souls roll out the red carpet for visiting players and their families. They get no idea how happy the locals are to be the hosts.
To play ball on a pristine field with thousands of fans in the stands cheering, millions more watching on TV, was my boyhood dream -- one shared by millions of kids worldwide. Right now, 11 Fairfield boys are living that dream.
The World Series meshes professional facilities and amenities with the innocence of youth. Adolescent boys who have grown up watching baseball on multiple TV networks now have the cameras trained on them, and some of the broadcasters asking them questions are their heroes.
The games, the crisp new uniforms, meeting kids from foreign lands, the plush accommodations -- they all add up to what will be lifelong memories.
Kids get to play games at the immaculately groomed Lamade and Volunteer stadiums. Music between innings gets the thousands in attendance clapping and cheering. "Dugout," the mascot, welcomes all the players.
For a week or 10 days, they become national celebrities, and they're not even in high school yet.
It's all possible because Williamsport embraces this event. It lives for the Little League World Series. I've been out here when the bats and balls have been stored away. It's a mill town in a valley, not unlike Derby or Ansonia, neither of which you'd call a tourist trap.
If you're a visitor from Uganda, Taiwan, Japan -- even Canada -- and your first experience in the United States is a trip to Williamsport at any other time of year, it may not be very inspiring.
But the region puts its best foot forward and makes Williamsport a special place at World Series time.
"It's like the Olympics," said Francis Ciccarelli, a 55-year-old clothing shop owner who's lived in Williamsport his whole life. "We're welcoming the world."
That hospitality and good spirit are what keeps you hooked when you get here. Coming to Williamsport is like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting. When you get there, the people are happy to have you, welcome you and want you to come back.
How rare is that?
"It means everything to this town," KISS-FM radio personality and longtime Little League radio announcer Gary Christman said. "It puts this town on the map."
I know Fairfield's team has been stunned by the hospitality. But I guess that's what coming to these parts is all about. Things are a little bit slower, people are friendlier and events like the Little League World Series become another-world experience.
You can't feel that watching the Series on TV.
You just have to be here.