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Fanpost Friday: Little League

With the LLWS title game coming Sunday, take some time to share your stories of youth sport glories!

The Rout Was On: A 55-1 game, in the Little League World Series? Best avoid the spunky little center fielder shown at the plate, wearing the proud blue of mighty Mundelein.
Carole Bernardi

As a baseball player, my career peaked at 13.

I did play through high school, and had some fun memories. And in college, there was a lot of pickup baseball, softball, Wiffleball, and I enjoyed all of it. I’m sure there’ll be some other, goofy story of my baseball career to share again one day.

But with the Little League World Series tournament winding down to its championship game on Sunday, it’s a good time for all of us to revisit our younger playing days. Please, if you have the time and gumption, share your story of Little League days in a Fanpost.

No. 50 on your scorecard.
Carole Bernardi

So, this badass-looking hombre was the starting center fielder for the 1982 Mundelein Little League Williamsport All-Stars. He was a bit rotund for center field, but the kid could field the crap out of the ball, had great instincts, and a sunny attitude about ball that is completely betrayed by the front yard mug shot above.

The dimpled dandy proudly poses with prop bat, trucker hat.

Now, this is more like it. Here’s the starting shortstop for the 1982 regular season Kawasaki Motors something or others. It’s the one season, in any sport, at any age, where I could do no wrong. Somehow, I was better than nearly every other kid on the field, despite being smaller than most of them. I hit a home run far and deep over our center field scoreboard this season. I threw a no-hitter, and routinely won games merely by throwing the ball over the plate consistently, because I had zero breaking stuff or speed. Probably hit a gaudy .600, or some very KenWoesque number. Who knows, I might have broken 10 WAR in 1982.

Anyway, I was selected as an All-Star, and while I’d always held my own playing baseball and basketball, this was a pretty cool honor. Add in the possibility, however remote, of running the table and ending up in Williamsport to play for the Little League crown, and the entire experience was terribly exciting.

Our very first game of the postseason megatournament was the craziest game I’ve ever played in, probably even ever witnessed. It was against a Little League team from Skokie, and we beat them very, very badly. I had six hits. The 10-run rule was invoked.

But not before we scored 55 runs.

Yes, my favorite Little League memory was a playoff game we won, 55-1, in five innings.

I used to have clippings from this game, and one day when every local newspaper (Independent Register, some incarnation of Daily Herald, I’m looking at you) trots its entire archives out for research, I’ll dig a clip back out again. But the best evidence of this incredible game is the relatively innocuous shot my mom took of one of my eight at-bats on the day.

I don’t remember much about the game besides going 6-for-8. I know I had a few doubles, maybe a triple, drove in and scored plenty of those 55 runs, because I played the entire game. I recall at least one or two teammates having seven hits. We all were dumbfounded through much of the game, because it defied belief we could be scoring 10 or 20 runs an inning. I have no clue what Michael Jordan must have been feeling when he sank those six three-pointers and shrugged toward Magic Johnson on the sidelines in the 1992 NBA Finals, but if I ever came close, it was on this afternoon. And our entire team felt it.

At one point, one of the frustrated Skokie pitchers rolled the ball across the plate, like he was bowling. I felt so bad for him, and his entire team — and, worse, the kid got bawled out by his coach for making such a pitch.

Now, if this was a normal league game, I assume the powers-that-be would have found a way to end this rout. But, presumably because this was “official” Williamsport tournament stuff, the game had to go five innings. It was crazy.

At some point, I believe our coach had us all go up and switch-hit, and still, the hits came. I suppose the runs started trickling in more slowly, but still, they came.

Stranger still, this Mundelein juggernaut, capable of putting a 55-spot up on unsuspecting LLWS All-Stars from far bigger towns, didn’t make it out of our region, or district, or bracket, or whatever they are. In fact, we didn’t even win another game in the tournament.

So, what’s your story, guys, gals? Age, sport, circumstance good or bad doesn’t matter. Just slide on over and tell your tale at Fanposts.