Fresh off the road from a journey through the 2012 Little League World Series, the eleven young men of the Fairfield American Little League received a celebratory welcome home on Thursday, August 23. Though they didn’t make it all the way to the top, the team has plenty to be proud of. They finished as one of the best four Little League teams in the nation. A staggering achievement because there are more than 8,000 teams and this was the best showing of a Connecticut team since 1989.
Fire trucks and police escorts heralded the team’s arrival at Sherman Green. Though they’d been on the road for hours, journeying from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the athletes were all smiles as they greeted the crowd. Family members waved signs and shutterbugs snapped away at these hometown heroes. Proudly sporting their medals, the team lined up on the steps of the gazebo to receive a warm cheer from their hometown fans.
A number of speakers elaborated on the team’s achievements, among them First Selectman Michael Tetreau and State Senator John McKinney. Each speech shared a common theme: the team’s heart and effort on the field, and their humble nature off of it.
While most kids enjoyed summer trips to the beach and afternoons hiding in the AC, the team sweated their way through endless practices and games. A strain that was felt, too, by their families. Manager Bill Meury offered a special shout out to the siblings of the athletes, who were a constant presence at games. Addressing the parents, he joked, “We admire and respect your sons…but we refuse to spend another twenty-one nights with them.” Senator McKinney offered his heartfelt congratulation to the team, telling them, “You made your whole state proud.”
When asked if they had any words to share, the players thanked their families for their support—especially their mothers. Though their dads were “pretty good, too,” one joked. Proof of a level of humility that is rare for his age and accomplishments, star pitcher Will Lucas only had kind words to share after his team’s final game. He said of Petaluma Nation, who knocked them out of the league, “I want to compliment the other team on the great job they did, and my team for helping me get there.”
It’s clear that wherever these young athletes chose to go in life, their successful journey is only beginning.