They did not get a win, but the Gloucester Youth Baseball 12U All-Stars had an experience they will never forget as participants in the 2012 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series in Winchester, Mass., earlier this month.
After taking the district championship in June and capturing the state title in early July, the local All-Stars traveled to Live Oak, Fla., to compete in the Southeast Regional Tournament. Overcoming an early loss, the Gloucester boys went on to win the regional event and claim a berth in the World Series.
"Overall, it was an incredible journey from Newport News to South Boston to Live Oak, all the way up to Boston. The team performed well. It was just an incredible run," said Gloucester All-Stars manager Jim Leigh.
Leigh said the magnitude of the team’s achievements really sank in with some of the first words from a World Series representative to the young players when they arrived in Winchester. "He said, ‘You are 125 kids left out of about 800,000 in the 12/60 group.’ When you get to that level, you’re among the elite in the country.
"The people who put this on really knew what they were doing," Leigh said of the championship series. "Everything was just perfect, the experience of a lifetime, really. It felt like you were at the MLB All-Stars game. Each team was introduced and the boys ran through the fog onto the field. It was a great opening ceremony, and a welcoming banquet that was awesome."
Leigh said about 60 parents and fans also made the trip from Gloucester to Massachusetts to cheer the county’s first youth baseball team to make the World Series. Among them was Gloucester Youth Baseball president Marvin Robins, who had the honor of throwing the first pitch to start the third game of the series.