By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT —
Thousands of fans packed the hill overlooking Howard J. Lamade Stadium on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the championship game of the 2013 Little League World Series.
For these diehard fans, most of whom came with blankets or camping chairs on the sunny, 80 degree day, it didn’t matter if they were in the stadium as long as they got to see the game they loved.
And for many of them, distance wasn’t a factor either.
Mike Ramlow came with his friend Brian Leck from Maumee, Ohio, to watch the game and relive old memories.
“We got up this morning and drove six hours,” said Leck, shortly before the start of the 3 p.m. championship game between Tokyo and Chula Vista, Calif.
It was a special occasion for Ramlow. It marked the 50th year since his last Little League baseball season.
“I never made it this far,” he said with a chuckle. “I played for years and coached for years and finally made it here.”
“I just love the game, love baseball … watching the game (live) is phenomenal,” Ramlow said.
Some were coming for the first time.
“My husband has been wanting to take in the Little League World Series for some time now,” said Tracy Bowers, who drove with her family for 3 1/2 hours from Strasburg, Va. “It’s a beautiful area.”
Her husband, Robbie, used to play Little League baseball, which made the trip important to him.
“I’m sure we’ll be back,” she said.
Another former Little League player, Denny Appleby, of Duncanville, drove 110 miles on his motorcycle to be in South Williamsport for the game.
“I can remember being 10 years old in 1963 … and watching it on black and white TV and falling in love with it,” he said.
He started coming to the series about 20 years ago, and has made it a priority to attend whenever he can.
What he looks forward to the most is the atmosphere, seeing all the fans and their families watching the games and looking at what the young players can do.
“I’ve lost all interest in Major League baseball, but I still come here,” he said.
And active kids weren’t just on the baseball diamond but on the hill around the stadium as well. Young baseball fans were using sheets of cardboard, some brought from home and some made from empty boxes given to them by vendors, to sled down the hill.
Heather Sandor, of Pittsburgh, helped her son, 7-year old Jackson, and daughter, 8-year old Rylie, craft their own sleds before they arrived this year. It’s a common way for kids to pass the time in between games, said Sandor, who has been coming with her family for about three years. The secret, she said, is to put candle wax on the bottom to make the cardboard more durable.
Zach Schaeffer, of Warrington, Va., is another former Little Leaguer with hopes that his 2-year old son, Cooper, will follow in his footsteps.
“Every boy should come here once in their life. It’s an amazing atmosphere,” he said.
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