Little League World Series champs take fame in stride

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
While some kids might boast about having a Little League World Series under their belts, the Warner Robins American Little League baseball players are taking it all in stride.

Parents of five of the players who were part of Robins team said the journey to the Little League World Series, which started in early June and wrapped up with a World Series Championship in Williamsport, Pa., was one marked by excitement and fatigue. 

Now, the baseball players and their families are just trying to take their new-found fame in and get back to living life in their Middle Georgia community. 

Clint Jackson, an equipment cleaner in the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group at Robins Air Force Base whose son, Hunter, played third baseman for the Warner Robins Little League Team, said the team's victory was a wonderful ending to their journey. 

"It hadn't fully sunk in yet," he said. "It's a good feeling. You couldn't be more proud of them." 

The championship was truly a total team achievement, Mr. Jackson said. The father of four said the players are handling the experience better than he had imagined. 

"Right now, it's going a lot better than I thought it would," he said. "I thought they would get the big head. So far though, they've been pretty level-headed. I've been really surprised." 

David Martens, a building manager for the 402nd Software Maintenance Group whose son, Nick, played second base and right field for the WRALL team, said he's proud of how his son has kept his cool throughout the experience. 

"He did great," he said. "(The team) handled the publicity well. They handled all of the pressures and demands of the practices and being in the national spotlight well. I think they exemplified what young men should act like." 

Mr. Martens said being the center of attention is definitely an adjustment for Nick. 

"It's tough to have cameras in your face, people wanting your autograph, and total strangers walking up to you and congratulating you," he said. "I think he's a little taken aback by a lot of it." 

Michael Conlon, an aircraft sheet metal mechanic for the 402nd Maintenance Wing, said his son, Zane, who played second baseman and shortstop for the team, has made a lot of friends as a result of the World Series championship. 

Zane said he has eight pages of people's names who want to be added as friends on his myspace Web page. 

Mike Wells, an electronic engineering technician in the 402nd Electronic Maintenance Group whose son, Micah, played first base, said his son isn't used to all of the attention. 

"Micah is a pretty laid-back kid," he said. "He's kind of shy. I know for a fact (the media) have asked him to interview a few times and he says, 'I don't do much talking.'" 

Adjusting to extra attention isn't the only adjustment the teammates are making.
Getting back to the routine of school and household responsibilities has been an easier change to take for some. 

Trish Wynn, a management analyst in the Contracting Directorate whose 13-year-old son, Clint, pitched and played in the outfield, said her son wants to get back to the basics of his life. 

"He just wants to get on the couch and turn on the TV and watch a little ESPN or whatever he wants to watch and just relax a little bit," she said. She is proud of the way the players have handled themselves on and off the field. 

"Everybody's happy and proud and it's great that they won, but I think what people are really looking at is their sportsmanship," she said. "(People are noticing) the way they handled that championship game with the Japanese boys. They were so compassionate. They were their friends. They had been there with them for two weeks prior to the game. They played ping-pong with them. They were happy they won, but they were sad for them that they were heartbroken." 

Having a large crowd of their adoring friends, family, and fans filling the ballpark where their journey began was much-appreciated by many of the parents and almost overwhelming to some. 

"It was a shock coming back to the park where we were to pick them up from the bus ride from the airport and seeing what was estimated as 3,000 people," Mr. Conlon said. "That was overwhelming. There were a lot of people there. I was just really surprised." 

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