In the Suburbs / Hoping the fever never breaks
While I shed my share of tears over Tuesday night's heart-breaking Little Leagu World Series game, I will always feel that the Fairfield American team has given its home-town a fever that won't break for a long time to come. In our eyes, guys, you were and always will be our winners!
While the Texans dealt the team a tough blow over the weekend, the Americans received a little relief with a postponement due to weather on Monday. As I write this column, the Fairfielders are even more hopeful for a comeback on Wednesday when their star pitcher Nick Nardone can return to play -- he had reached the 85-pitch limit in last Friday's game and was required to stay out for four days.
Tuesday's game starter was a toss up between Jack Quinn and Eddie Magi. Unfortunately, Magi had been put through the ringer by the Houston team over the weekend. But he was still within the required limit of pitches and was certainly up for starting. And the rest is history now.
Despite all the information I have tried to provide, I am ordinarily the world's worst and least knowledgeable baseball fan. I have only learned about Little League rules and restrictions from what I've read as our heroic team has moved closer to victory.
But I have the same fever everyone else does and I remain just as loyal a fan.
As I've followed the meteoric rise of our Fairfield team, I remembered countless evenings and Saturdays in Chicago when I followed our Little League games at Thillens Stadium, which was a reasonable bus ride away from our house in Rogers Park on the far north side of the city.
I'm sure there must have been a world series in those days of the late '50s and early '60s, but I honestly don't remember any of our local teams making it that far. Some of my friends were on the teams and appreciated my being there, but that was as close as I came to Little League fever.
And Williamsport, Pa., was a town off Route 80 that we always passed enroute to Chicago or Michigan. Only in the past 10 years or so have I equated with the Little League World Series. But the series certainly has put the town on the map.
I have also paid closer attention to our little leaguers this year for two other reasons. On one hand, Barbara, who works in the genealogy section of the Fairfield Museum and History Center, has family, I believe, whose kids play for the Fairfield American team and the girls Little League team. Barbara came down with the fever early and hasn't recovered. We've looked forward to her weekly reports on games and her enthusiasm is contagious.
On the other hand, with our "It's a Hit!" baseball history exhibition at the museum we have a lot of memorabilia on display about Little League in Fairfield. It's part of our Dugout area. We even supplied one of the newspapers with an old photograph from the '50s of a town little leaguer and a man I assume was his father. It was called "Townies" and it came from a lender in town.
If all is well and the town parade for the Fairfield American team goes forward tomorrow, it will end at the museum and the town can celebrate and have a chance to see our exhibition as well.
As I mentioned to Meg Barone, the reporter who wrote a piece on the Fairfield American Team for the Citizen, we may not be died-in-the-wool fans, but we've been fortunate to live in some places where championships occurred, like Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. Of course, our loyalty to New York is very strong.
I remained hopeful to the end that this great Fairfield Little League team would walk away as winners. But despite all that happened, this experience was still a great way to wrap up the summer in a near-victory bow, which will still send a lot of very happy kids back to school, knowing that their team almost reached the top.
Steve Gaynes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org