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Little League World Series Notebook

August 27, 1999

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa (AP) _ They lost all three games they played in the Little League World Series, but that didn’t stop the squad from Brownsburg, Ind., from taking a victory lap around the field.

``The kids were looking sad and down,″ Brownsburg manager Gary King said. ``I just told them told them to go out there, take a lap and have a good time. Who knows when they’ll be back here again.″

Following the 2-0 loss Wednesday to Boise, Idaho, the Brownsburg boys did their victory lap, waving at the cheering crowd, giving each other high fives, and putting a scoop of dirt into their pocket as they crossed home plate.

``It was a lot of fun. I’m going to put the dirt in a bottle and put it on my bookshelf,″ catcher Austin Nickol said.

On Thursday, Nickol and the rest of his team took a boat ride with other little leaguers, then traded commemorative pins.

``It’s frustrating to lose three ball games,″ King said. ``We weren’t beaten coming into this thing, so we were a little shell-shocked.

``But two weeks from now, we’ll look back on this and say we were in the show. We had a lot of fun this week, but sometimes losing is a bigger lesson in life.″

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SLIDING DOWN: It’s become a tradition to see kids of all ages sliding down the grassy hill overlooking Lamade Stadium, where the Little League World Series is held every year.

They may have to start sliding managers, too.

King said that before his last game against Boise, he allowed his Brownsburg team to take part in the Little League tradition.

``Some parents came up and said, `Can they do that before the game?‴ he said.

In fact, the manager said he wanted to join them, but didn’t have the time.

``They’re going to have to throw me down that hill now,″ King said

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BOYS WILL BE BOYS: The team from Phenix City, Ala., is a hit on and off the field, especially with the female fans.

Three hours before their U.S. championship game against defending champion Toms River, N.J., the Phenix City team lined a white picket fence to chat and sign autographs for about 10 girls.

``They’re at that age now,″ Phenix City manager Tony Rasmus said as he watched from a few feet away. ``They’re loving this stuff.″

Rasmus said at least one of his players wasn’t getting into it, though _ his 11-year-old son, Cory.

``He came up to up me at the picnic table earlier and said `What are those guys doing? They’re wasting their time.‴

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PRE-GAME PREP: The four finalists in the series took decidedly different routes in practicing for Thursday’s crucial games.

Toms River went for a morning boat ride while a light rain rendered the practice fields too wet, then went through drills in the afternoon.

While Toms River sailed the Susquehanna River, the Japanese squad worked out in full uniform at a practice field, and Phenix City took light batting practice in the morning but relaxed on the sidelines the rest of the day.

``I just wanted them to relax a little bit and have fun. I didn’t want their mind to be on the game the whole time.″ Phenix City manager Tony Rasmus said.

The team from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico also took batting practice about an hour or two before the game before trudging up a short hill to the stadium.

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RUSTY ROOTS: Former major leaguer Rusty Staub has divided loyalties when it comes to a rooting interest in the Little League World Series.

Staub, who is originally from New Orleans, caught a World Series game for the first time, watching the international championship between Japan and Puerto Rico.

His mind though, was on the U.S. championship between Phenix City and Toms River.

``Well, I don’t know. I have friends from Alabama, and being that I have New York metropolitan area connections, I have friends in New Jersey as well.″

Staub never played in organized Little League while growing up. He was impressed by what he saw.

``The thing that I enjoy the most is the sportsmanship. Although winning is important, it’s not the only thing,″ he said. ``I hope Little League is successful in that approach and not let winning become the most important issue, because it really isn’t.″

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NOTES: Former Little Leaguers Bill Bradley, Dan Quayle and George W. Bush are running for president. Former major leaguers Tommy John and Rusty Staub are in Williamsport for the series, and Gary Carter was at the series opener Sunday. ... Baseball’s greatest hits, as played this week on the loudspeakers at Lamade Stadium, are ``Centerfield″ by John Fogerty; Alabama’s ``Mountain Music,″ which has a baseball reference; and ``The Greatest″ by Kenny Rogers. ... The Phenix City-Russell County Chamber of Commerce was showing Thursday’s night’s game between Phenix City, Ala., and Toms River, N.J., on a big-screen television at the town amphitheater. ``This team has put Phenix City on the national map,″ Mayor Peggy Martin told the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper of Columbus, Ga. ``Those boys are fantastic ambassadors of our little community. It’s about time some good news came out of our city.″ The city only got Little League three years ago _ before that, it had Dixie League teams. Chamber of Commerce director Vic Cross said he has been watching Kyle Tidwell’s game-winning grand slam Monday over and over on videotape.

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