Orel Hershiser, who I greatly respect, was tiresome with his frequent announcement that travel ball players are now switching back to Little League for an opportunity to savor the Williamsport experience. That’s pure nonsense. Teams from California and Northern Mexico go far in the Little League World Series because they play for club teams year round. These kids improve their game by competing against other players with advanced skills. And it should be noted that only eight United States teams are lucky enough to go to Williamsport out of a zillion Little League programs. The odds are better at winning the lottery.
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I mentioned earlier that Nick Mora and Micah Pietila-Wiggs are terrific athletes who have a bright future in sports. Any sport. But the best pure baseball player in the tournament this year was New England’s Chad Knight. Although a normal-sized youngster, Knight is a powerhouse on the mound and at the plate, with exceptional range at third base and shortstop. Against Tijuana, Knight hit a towering blast over the left field fence that traveled nearly 300 feet, and his determination and competitive nature was rivaled only by Mora.
And I’m not the only one who likes Knight, the owner of a huge baseball memorabilia collection. Naturally, Chad approached Nomar Garciaparra for an autograph when the pair first met at a regional event, and they became friends. So, when Knight’s Westport, Connecticut team made it to Williamsport, it was Garciaparra who asked Chad for an autograph!
“This might be worth something in a few years,” smiled Nomar, holding up the ball. “Even the signature is awesome.”