Terrence Gist, ESPN's poster player for longest home run during the Little League World Series, was smothered for autographs.
Banners, signs, shirts, balloons and scores of family and friends greeted the Northwood Little players on their return from Williamsport, Pa.
The players were still in the spotlight as media sought interviews, photos and video to document the only team in South Carolina ever to win a Little League World Series game.
And when all the baggage was picked up and players left the GSP terminal, there was still daddy's little girl waiting for her hero, Northwood Little League head coach Kevin Tumblin.
Trump had come and gone for his speaking engagement in Greenville by the time the Northwood Little League players and their families came down the escalator. A crowd of several hundred family, friends and supporters cheered their heroes home from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
GSP Police Chief Bobby Welborn, who oversaw both events, said, “It’s been a little busy here today.” So busy that reinforcements arrived to steer the players through the crowd to the baggage area.
There were signs, banners, balloons, youth league teams in full uniform and every daily media in the greater Greer area on hand for the welcoming. The players took it in stride. After all, they had spent the past week introducing themselves on ESPN preceding each game they played, handled pressure-packed games with memorable comebacks and had players setting new standards at Lamade Stadium.
Terrence Gist delivered a mammoth home run that cleared the light pole in left field and traveled approximately 380 feet, according to LL officials. “They told me it was the longest one recorded,” Gist said. “I knew it was going over the fence, but not that far,” Gist said. He has it farther, according to coach Kevin Tumblin.
Gist made ESPN’s Top 10 twice.
Alex Edmondson pitched a no-hitter to help Northwood to its first-round win. Ironically, it was his second straight game, after pitching a no-no against Florida to win the Southeast Regional and trip to the LLWS.
Edmondson had to adapt to a shorter pitching distance. Middle School is 60 feet to the Little League’s 46 feet. “I adjusted pretty good,” Edmondson said. “I threw a couple of balls in the dirt in the beginning but didn’t have any trouble after that.
“It’s good to be home and felt good to have all of Greenville supporting us,” he said. Students from schools sent cards and notes to the players at their dorm in Williamsport.
Kip Johnson said he will most remember most was “the experience with the team. We had good chemistry. and we all had a good time."
Ryan Soug said after getting over early nerves everything was all baseball. “Felt the jitters a little bit while warming up in the stadium with all the fans watching. But it went away quickly after we began playing."
Soug said the food was “OK” but he’s looking forward to home cooking, “especially steak.”
School bells: All players attending public schools must re-register. The players, who missed the first two days of school while playing in the LLWS were automatically dropped from school rolls.
Family-friendly: The Union County Dixie Youth Machine Pitch Champions were on hand for Northwood’s homecoming, all dressed in game uniforms with a sign welcoming the Southeast Regional champions. Terrence Gist and his family have strong ties to Union County where many Gists have starred at Union County High School. Gist is headed to Eastside High School, however – in two years.
Water cannon salute: The Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport fire department gave the arriving plane carrying the players a water cannon salute – streams of water fired from each side of the plane, forming a gateway as the plane taxied.
Parents pass security: The parents were given passes to meet the players as they deplaned on the upper concourse.
On time delivery: The plane landed at 3:21 p.m., just six minutes later than scheduled. That compared with the players sitting on a plane on the tarmac in Atlanta for three hours while the FAA was trying to figure out a computer glitch.