Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baseball in Waco

Sometime during the first week of August each year, Little League baseball comes to Waco, TX. Waco is the headquarters of the Little League Southwest Region and hosts the Southwest Region Tournament at the baseball complex behind region headquarters.

I have just returned from spending a bit over a week in the record breaking heat in Waco. “Why?”, because my husband was invited to umpire at the Little League Southwest Region Tournament this year. I wanted to show my support of his accomplishment and help out when I could. The volunteers took good care of the players and umpires and even though the temperature was over 100 each day, none of them fell out from the heat. Fans were encouraged to stay hydrated as well and seemed to follow this advice. I was able to pitch in and help clean up the stands after each game.

The umpire assignments rotated them through the different positions during the tournament. My husband called the plate for the semi-final game between the Colorado state champions and the Texas East champions. (Texas is so big it has two “state” level tournaments, one for Texas East and one for Texas West.) The team from Texas East beat Colorado in an exciting and close game. For the finals between Texas East and Louisiana, my husband was assigned to rotate out with another umpire on the right field line. This is where he was at the bottom of the seventh inning and where some of the action occurred on the game winning play. (Little League tournament games are six innings. This game was in extra innings because the score was tied at the bottom of the sixth.) A clip of this play was uploaded to YouTube. The first minute of the clip shows the lead up to the last play, the final hit and my husband calling the ball fair. The hit resulted in a triple, but with an overthrow by Texas East at third, the batter scored the winning run. Louisiana now goes on to represent the Southwest Region at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.

The fans really get into the excitement of the tournament. Fans of teams often have matching t-shirts, some had matching jewelry. I wore my baseball gathering pins several times and one fan wore an elaborate handmade hat to the semi-finals and finals. All in all, in spite of the heat, a good time was had by all.

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