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Admittedly, I jumped on thebandwagon late,very late.The manager,Jim Arnold, o the 1988 AndoverNational team ore-warned me a ew weeks beoreI knew who Ricky Saggese andToby Guzowski were.Arnold said, “We have twogreat pitchers. We have a greathitting team ... I think we aregood enough to get to Williams-port (Pa.).”When they clinched the statetitle and were headed to the then-East Regional in Bristol, Conn.,then-sports editor Russ Conwaysummoned me to hop in a car andsee i something crazy happens.Mind you, Massachusettshadn’t won an “East Regional”in 32 years (Winchester in 1956),particularly with powerhousesrom New York, N.J. and Pennsyl-vania members o the East.Because our Little Leaguetravel budget had no money it, Iended up sleeping at some ele-mentary school gym with severalparents.It was then I technically wasadopted as part o the amily.I spent the entire week in Wil-liamsport, arriving two days aterthe players did.It was a trip I will never orget.Here are 10 o the ondestmemories:
1. Seeing LamadeStadium or frst time.
Beore checking into the hotel,which was less than a quarter-mile rom Little League Head-quarters in South Williamsport,I drove the car rental directly tothe complex. I was high above theeld, looking at Lamade Stadiumand I was in awe.
2. Paul Allard’s mohawk.
I don’t know i the AndoverNational catcher’s mohawk wasthe rst-ever team bondingmohawk (he was the only playerthat did it) I had ever seen, but heimmediately became the mediadarling — USA Today put hissmiling, energetic mug on itscover — or his outgoing person-ality. The kid had guts.
3. Harris readingthe pledge.
One o the best 11-year-oldsplaying regularly at the 1988Little League World Series, theshortstop’s brightest moment wasnot one o his patented nice playson deense, but his reading theLittle League Pledge to ociallyopen in the 1988 tournament. Hisather Red Harris, manager JimArnold’s top assistant, couldn’thave been prouder.
4. Watching Taiwanwork out.
Talk about a sight! Watchingthe Taiwan team running as ateam through the complex at 7:30a.m. was incredible. It was like agroup o Marines running beorebreakast. It was intimidating.
5. Watching Taiwanplayers watch Toby.
The irony is that while theTaiwan players were an intimidat-ing orce on and o the eld, therepresentatives o the Far Eastwere in awe o the largest boyin the tournament, Andover’sToby Guzowski, who was six-eettall and very strong. When Tobywalked around, everyone watched,especially the boys rom Taiwan.
6. Connectionwith Panama.
The boys rom Panama hada connection with the Andoverteam. The irony was they couldn’tunderstand each other’s languagebut that didn’t stop them romcompeting at the ping pong tableand the diving board. The actthat the Panamanian boys weren’ttotally supervised made it aninteresting relationship.
7. Rory was the story.
How many times have we seena proessional athlete have toweigh the option o playing agame or seeing their child beingborn. Well, it happened in LittleLeague, too, as Andover managerJim Arnold opted to fy home(good decision) to be home withhis wie, missing the rst gameagainst Texas. We will never or-get about Rory Arnold’s birthdayaround here. Never.
8. Ricky and his dad.
While there were many specialrelationships, this one, betweenthe Andover star and his dad,Rick Sr., was extra special. Whenplayers and parents were permit-ted to spend time together, Rickyalways was with his dad, whodied tragically three years later insouth Florida rom a reakish linedrive o his head while throwingbatting practice.
9. Players village.
This is one o the great aspectso this event, even today. Theplayers stay in dormitory-likeapartments, with their coaches,with all o the other teams.There are no parents (or media)allowed. It was like Willie Won-ka’s Chocolate Factory. You couldhear boys rom all walks o liehaving un in the pool.
10. The drive out oWilliamsport.
When it was over and Andoverhad headed home by bus, I willnever orget the drive rom Wil-liamsport to the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre airport. It was a thing o beauty, driving along the riverand mountains. I remember say-ing “Some day I will return withmy son.” And I did, 16 years later… ve years in a row.
Thanks for the memories
Here are 10 of many from Williamsport in 1988
Andover National Little League team rom 1988 poses or the team photo on the hill above Lamade Stadium inWilliamsport, Pa. Here is the team: Front row, rom let, Ryan Moynihan, Pete Daniels, Danny Hansberry, BrianFlanagan, Matt Chapin, Paul Cassidy and Ricky Crispo. Back row: Todd Harris, Ricky Saggese, Matt Wolcott,Paul Allard, Pat Walsh, Matt Marvin, Toby Guzowski and assistant manager Red Harris. Manager Jim Arnold andassistant coach John Murphy are not pictured.Andover National manager JimArnold, on right, is with his wie,Beth and newborn son, Rory, in 1988.
T H E T O W N S M A N T H E E A G L E - T R I B U N E A n d o v e r L i t t l e L e a g u e 2 5 t h A n n i v e r s a r y