Parents Hope World Series Experience Teaches Little League Players Lessons
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Winning the Little League World Series by default was bittersweet for this coastal community’s boys of summer, but the experience taught them something their parents hope they will carry through life.
″The kids have really learned that if you follow the rules and don’t mouth off ... don’t complain, you’ll come out on top,″ said Deborah Burroughs, mother of pitcher Sean Burroughs.
Sean and other all-stars from Long Beach, a working-class town 25 miles south of Los Angeles, were declared champions Thursday when Little League officials stripped a team from the Philippines of the title for using ineligible players.
The team from the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga beat Long Beach 15-4 last month in the final in Williamsport, Pa., but officials acknowledged later only six of 14 players were from Zamboanga.
The others came from teams more than 500 miles away. District administrator Armando Andaya said he authorized the replacements for ″justifiable reasons,″ which he didn’t explain. He later resigned, calling the default a ″rank injustice″ to the Filipino team.
The experience left Long Beach pitcher Randall Shelley and his teammates feeling a bit hollow.
″It’s great we’re the world champions, but it would have been more fun if we could have won it on the field,″ the lanky 12-year-old said Friday between classes at Will Rogers Middle School.
″I feel sorry for the Philippines kids. You wonder why their adults would do it,″ he said. ″It’s just for fun so why should you cheat? It’s just Little League.″
Eight of the 13 members of the Long Beach team attend the middle school, named for the American humorist and social critic known for saying: ″I never met a man I didn’t like.″
Ralph Spicer, assistant principal at the 800-student school, said he was proud the team showed the grace Rogers’ was known for in accepting their tarnished title.
″The maturity of their response - wanting to replay the title game and feeling sorry for the Filipinos - shows they know between right and wrong,″ Spicer said.
Manager Larry Lewis said he hoped the controversy will affirm for the team the value of honesty and fairness and lead to fundamental changes in certifying the eligibility of players.
″This is an important object lesson and we hope this helps clean up Little League for future generations,″ Lewis said.
Members of the team said the lessons are all well and good, but they have bigger things to be concerned about - things like school, soccer, football and, for some, winter baseball.
″Things are pretty much back to normal. We’re busy,″ said 12-year-old Sean Burroughs, whose father, former major leaguer Jeff Burroughs, helped coach the team.
Chris Miller, 11, said he won’t soon forget the World Series.
″It was pretty cool,″ he said. ″We just kept winning and winning. I didn’t think we’d go all the way but we did. It was great.″