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Taylors LLWS players celebrate rock-star status

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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Taylors LLWS players celebrate rock-star status

Little League World Series

• Follow Northwood's LLWS journey here.

It’s going to be a fast and furious day for the Northwood Little League team.

The team had an early breakfast to get in some batting practice before hitting the ESPN studio for its production and background on the Taylors team. The 11th Annual Grand Slam Parade and Festival follows hours later and is the marquee event for the Williamsport, Pa. community.

The festival begins at 4 p.m. and parade at 6. Jim Leyland, retired Major League Baseball manager (Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers), is the parade’s grand marshal.

“We’re due at ESPN for players headshots, the lineup and interviews this morning,” said Northwood Coach Brad Johnson, who’s son, Kip, plays for the Southeast Regional champions. “Some of the players have been practicing, holding a microphone in one hand, and pretending to interview each other.

“You can tell some of the players are a little shy but most of them are enjoying the opportunity to be on ESPN,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the players have been preparing to be interviewed and asked questions like their favorite baseball player and food.

Participants in the parade include all 16 Little League teams, national, regional and local marching bands, antique cars, fire trucks, military equipment and other entertainment. The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce produces the parade.

“Once the kids get on the floats they have a great time and throw candy to the children to the parade,” said John Tompkins, serving as one of two chaperones (“uncles) for the Taylors team. “The players are pretty much rock stars to the 5-6 year olds.”

Northwood has been paired with the Caribbean champions, Los Bravos de Pontezuela Little League from Santiago de los Caballero, Dominican Republic.

Taylors shares a dorm floor with Mexico’s representative Seguro Social Little League, Mexicali Baja California, Mexico.

“The players are enjoying their free time with the Mexican team,” Johnson said.

Players spend spare time at the dorm’s swimming pool where all teams congregate and a big game room is set up for video and sports games. “A lot of the players are getting good at playing ping pong,” Johnson said. “Even some of the coaches.”

Johnson said the players were given three practice jerseys among a virtual shopping cart of gifts from the event’s sponsors. “The players were exchanging shirts with the teams from Mexico, Japan and the Caribbean Tuesday,” Johnson said.

“The biggest thing for the kids is meeting other kids from around the world,” Jeff Eastlake, the second “uncle” said. “Language isn’t any problem – baseball is its own language.”

The players, Johnson said, are enjoying the attention they are receiving from the LLWS. “They find it real interesting the security they must go through to be admitted to their dorms. They must have a wristband and (LLWS) identification. They like that,” Johnson said.

 

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