By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer
As the final out was recorded, the crowd at Beef O’ Brady’s in Plant City erupted on Aug. 1, as they gathered around a TV showing a live webcast.
There was no sound, much less color commentary, and the picture certainly wasn’t in high definition, but that didn’t stop 50 or so parents, brothers, sisters, and fellow Little League players from showing their support from hundreds of miles away, as the Plant City 10-11 Little League All-Stars won the Southeast Tournament of State Champions in Greenville, N.C.
It was a scene that depicted clearly the hometown feel of Plant City. Throughout my five-plus years in sports reporting, I always have been aware of the closeness of Little Leaguers and their support system.
I saw the two come together last week, when the community of Plant City gathered to cheer one of its teams to victory.
This week, the favor was returned, as the 10-11s, along with their parents and fans, kept a close eye on the 11-12 Majors, playing in their own region tournament in Warner Robins, Ga.
Unfortunately, the Majors didn’t take a top-two spot out of their pool, so they missed out on the chance to play in the semifinals or the finals, both of which are broadcast by the ESPN networks, complete with play-by-play commentary. They also fell short of punching a ticket to the Little League World Series, something the 10-11s will have an opportunity to do next year.
Let me tell you, this job keeps you busy. There is always something going on, and as a young newspaper, we are all learning and growing together, trying to get things flowing as routinely as possible. After taking pictures at a Vacation Bible School at Hope Lutheran Church Aug. 1, I hurried over to Beefs to catch the final few innings of the 10-11 All-Stars final with Tennessee.
A few things ran through my mind immediately.
The first was, admittedly, my hunger, as the aroma of hot wings reminded me I hadn’t had dinner. The second thought was the amount of people that showed up to support the 10-11s.
When I finally settled in and found a seat — thanks to some friendly parents who accommodated me in their booth — I got a chance to watch the game, but I quickly discovered that it wasn’t so much about everyone intently watching — but rather showing up to show their support.
I bumped into John Moore, the president of Plant City Little League, and he said the community has shown their support in more ways than just cheering teams on to victory. According to Moore, $10,000 to $15,000 has been raised for both the 10-11s and 11-12s to help them with travel costs.