To all who have traveled to the “Home of Little League Baseball” welcome to our area. Good luck to the players, coaches, and fans. The road you have navigated to be here is an amazing one! May everyone have a safe and happy stay here in the West Branch Valley.
The game Carl Stotz founded over 75 years ago is in great hands with current Little League headman Steve Keener. Steve and his great staff make sure the focus of Little League is the young ballplayers. Please do the same and remember they are just that, tremendously talented, young ball players. Everyone is a winner when coming together to enjoy America’s pastime, especially when it’s played on that most special Little League sized diamond.
As I pen this article I am enjoying the hospitality of the good folks of Klamath Falls, Oregon. I’m usually only a good shot off an Easton bat away from Lamade Stadium at my Webb Weekly office. This year is a little different; I’m at the Babe Ruth Senior World Series. Almost 2,700 miles due West in South Oregon, which has over 300 days of sunshine each year.
Good news for the folks back home, we are not alone. The good people of Klamath are hard-working, conservative lovers of America just like you and I! God, Country, Family, the love of the area in which they live and support of community. Stars and stripes, apple pie and baseball have never rung so true in my travels.
They have gone out of their way to put on a “Big Show” for the teams and visitors. The World Series has been first class from every aspect. Their hospitality has truly been a blessing to the boys from West End. Babe Ruth uses host families at the World Series. The players are divided up and adopted by a local family for the week; two or three ballplayers go with each family.
The bonds my son Jimmy made at past World Series continue to this day. Well, let me tell you we will be lucky if the boys return home. The host families of Klamath have provided much more than they signed up for.
The players have been adopted as sons of Klamath Falls. They have enjoyed fishing, golf, barbecues – Western-style and great home-cooked meals. Most importantly has been the encouragement and love only found in family.
Now for some special tips of the cap. First up, Keith Stotts, Host President. He is the nonstop, high-energy guy that accepted the challenge of hosting a World Series. He put together a great team and provided outstanding memories for so many. His hard work, love of his fellow man and pride in Klamath Falls shine brightly.
Deanna Edwards who found host families for all the ballplayers. She is like a special Aunt to every player making sure they were taken care of. She also did whatever was needed on the daily operations side.
Eugene Reynolds, Babe Ruth Tournament Director from Alabama is a no nonsense voice from the South. He, along with Keith, my newly made friends, provided great leadership. Mr. Reynolds is a long time Alabama football official and Babe Ruth supporter who has risen up the leadership ranks in both.
Steve Matthies, Sports Editor for the local paper, the Herald and News, is one of the good guys who has dedicated his life to promoting and covering local athletes. His coverage of the World Series has been outstanding.
Mr. Steve Souderton, for sharing his friendship, conservative views, homegrown strawberries, his wife’s home baked chocolate chip cookies and great conversation during the ball games.
Tom and Lana Loney, Jimmy’s host family. What special people they are. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. They also housed Billy Rummings, Bradley Walter and Jesse Cornell.
Tom provided the boys with a guided fishing trip to Rocky Point where the boys all caught trophy trout.
Thanks to all the good folks of Klamath Falls, wherever you went they just couldn’t do enough for you.
One last note, Kiger Stadium reminded me of Historic Bowman Field when I was growing up. It is one of the oldest wooden stadiums in the country, painted green, with a high wooden outfield fence. It is a great venue for a World Series with the charm and hometown feel of yesteryear.
God Bless America.