By Don Chipman
District 17 is the host district for the 2013 11-12 year old Little League State Tournament being played at the Little League diamond at Schmodt Park. Last Saturday, the district held a special breakfast at the Round House.
A near overflow crowd of over 300 hundred was on hand as Beardstown, acting as host for the tourney, held a breakfast honoring all five teams, parents, well-wishers, as well as the general public.
Pastor Mike Courson gave the opening prayer, and Tom Schlueter, President of Beardstown Baseball Association acted as Master of Ceremonies. Special guest speaker at the breakfast banquet was Pat Perry of Springfield, and a former big league pitcher with the Cards, Cubs, Reds and Dodgers.
The five teams comprised of Western Springs, Tri-Cities, Tuscola, Brad-ley Bourbonnais and Jackie Robinson West and their contingents, as well as the general public, officials and umpires, were treated to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon (over 100 pounds was fried), sausage, biscuits and gravy, along with watermelon and cantaloupe. Needless to say no one went home hungry.
Schlueter introduced District Administrator Tim Ward who stated, “I took a lot of ‘abuse’ for awarding the tournament to Beardstown. Other districts said Beardstown did not have enough volunteers to put on a state tournament. Well the crowd Saturday morning dispel- led that logic very quickly.” Ward went on say, “that the members of the District 17 staff administrators, along with the ground crew, all the umpires, the countless number of volunteers, and the five teams, were to be commended for all of their work and the conduct they have displayed during the state tournament. Beardstown proved that I was right all along in awarding the tournament here.” Ward’s remarks received a standing ovation from all the teams, parents, volunteers and the crowd on hand.
Schlueter then introduced Pat Perry, the featured speaker, who slanted his remarks to the players of the five teams on hand. Perry explained how even though he didn’t play high school baseball his junior and senior years, the “dream” of playing in the big leagues came true. “I was a walk on a Lincoln Land Junior College, made team and was drafted by the Houston Astros. Later on I was named to the LLJC Hall of Fame as the very first player from LLJC to make the majors. I was picked up by the Cardinals after being let loose by the Astros, which was another dream come true, as I was, and still am, a life-long Cardinal fan.”
Perry spoke of being a player in the Little League 1971 state tournament, while growing up in Taylorvilles. “So I know a little bit about what playing in a state tournament is all about.” Perry went on to explain some of the simple mechanics of pitching to the very attentive young group and explained, “the ‘journey’ is what you make of it, the effort that you put forth is the key word. Without effort you will never make it. If you have the ‘heart’ each and every one of you can make it to the ‘Bigs’ just like I did. Say to yourself even if I am from a small town I will believe in myself. The scouts are looking for that special person, so why not let it be you.” Perry pitched for the Cards from 1985-87, he was then traded to the Reds in 87-88, and on to the Cubs for the ’88-89 seasons, and finished his career with the Dodgers in 1990. Perry played in two World Series with the Cardinals, and one national league playoff season with the ’89 Cubs. Perry was leading the National League in ERA until he had a rotor cuff injury with the Cubs.
Schlueter closed out the ceremony by thanking the entire crew of well over 100 Beardstown volunteers for their tireless effort to help make the 2013 Little League State Tournament a success. The room gave president Schlueter and his volunteers a standing ovation to end the ceremony.
Alex Reichert, whose son Gabe plays for Bradley Bourbonnais said, “This is a great tournament, and the people who are putting it on are doing a splendid job.” Maurer Garrett of Jackie Robinson West has a son Maurery Jr. playing and he stated, “This is the best ran tournament by far we have ever been to.” Jim Oreskocich said, “This is a phenomenal tournament, being run by phenomenal people, who are putting on a phenomenal show. I have been to six state tournaments, four as a manager and two as a parent, and I have never seen a tournament as well organized as this one.”
I guess Jim said it all!