PARIS – It was a long 10-hour drive from Jamestown, N.Y., to Poland on Sunday for the Tri-County 13U baseball team. When the team crossed the Poland town line after 640-plus miles, the players saw flashing blue lights.
No one got a ticket, but the Boys of Summer of Tri-County were wanted for a celebration as they were coming home from the Babe Ruth 13U World Series where they finished as runner-ups. The final 15 miles of their trip was a police car, fire truck and ambulance escort to the Gouin Complex in Paris where family, friends and community members were waiting to give them a warm welcome home.
The escort was the idea of Joe Trybus who is CEO of the Board of the Tri-County Babe Ruth League late Saturday night.
“This is awesome right here. We came up with this idea about 8 o’clock last night,” Trybus said. “The fact this all got pulled together and we got this many people out here to support their return. It just says a lot about our community and the support for our young people.”
Head coach Tom Morton, who was in charge of driving the team bus, was mostly left in the dark for plans to welcome the team.
“They loved it,” Tri-County coach Tom Morton said of the players’ reaction to escort. “On ride home they were asking all these questions what was going to happen. They didn’t really know. I really didn’t know what was going to happen. It was pretty neat. They really enjoyed it. I am glad the community was able to pull it off on a short noticed.”
Morton enjoyed the second wind after getting the escort on the stretch drive home.
Despite losing 20-0 in the finals on Saturday to Tri-Valley, Calif., there will be many memories of the last week and half. They finished the tournament with a 4-2 record.
That’s what it’s really about. These kids don’t really realize what kind of memories they have yet,” Trybus said. “As you know, when you are young, you don’t even catch it.
“It’s definitely not a disappointing experience to be in the World Series final — regardless the outcome. A bunch of rural communities in Western Maine, we were playing teams much larger than us and have the ability to play year-round. To come up runners-up, that’s not disappointing.”
Tri-County was made up of 11 kids from Norway, Paris, Harrison, Waterford, Woodstock, Bethel, Bridgton, Rumford, Lovell and Oxford while Tr-Valley was drawing from cities and towns outside San Jose.
The athletes have been playing together the last three years and have made it to the New England regional’s three straight times in Cal Ripken baseball as state champions.
“We play together as a team and that really helps us,” Charlie Morton said. “The defense, everyone was better. When we are cheering each other on, it helps us out.”
The Babe Ruth World Series doesn’t offer the glitz and glamour that their Little League counterpart does with their World Series being televised on the ESPN family of networks.
“It’s such an experience; one to make it to the World Series, and secondly to succeed to make it to the championship game took tremendous amount of focus and discipline not to get distracted,” Tom Morton said.
The first day they got the World Series they had a skills competition and on the second day a parade. Right after the parade, they had to play their first game which was against Tri-Valley in which Tri-County won 6-5.
The kids also stayed with host families in the Jamestown community throughout the tournament. They were used to the accommodations since they played Cal Ripken baseball the last few years.
Janek Luksza said the lasting memory of the tournament is “playing baseball with friends.”