Members of the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League all-star team were given a hero’s welcome Sunday afternoon as hundreds of people turned out for a parade to recognize their accomplishments.

Earlier this month, the team became the first from Maine since 2005 to capture the New England regional championship and qualify for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Sunday’s welcome-home parade started at the former Cole Farms Restaurant in Gray and proceeded down Route 202 along Main Street before ending at the Douglas Little League Field in the center of Gray.

People lined the route for more than a half-mile to cheer the players on. Signs pinned to utility poles read, “Small town, big dream,” “One of the 20 best teams in the world” and “Home of the Little League state champions and World Series heroes.”

A cruiser from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office led the parade down Main Street, with a line of fire engines blasting their horns close behind. They were followed by more than a dozen motorcycle riders. The Little League players sat in the bed of an empty tractor-trailer while throwing candy to the crowd and holding a sign that read “As seen on ESPN,” which televised the World Series.

The truck pulled up to Douglas Field, which filled quickly with hundreds of people waiting to greet them. As the players walked onto the baseball field to a round of applause, the song “Centerfield” by John Fogerty blared from speakers in the snack shack.


After the players and coaches were introduced, each player stepped up to home plate to swing a bat and run around the bases while slapping the hands of onlookers.

The parade and celebration capped off a hectic three weeks of intense baseball games, which started Aug. 5 with the New England Region Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut. The 14 players, who are all between the ages of 10 and 12, won the title, before traveling to Williamsport.

Though they lost two games in the World Series and were eliminated, it didn’t seem to matter to the hundreds of fans, family and friends who turned out for Sunday’s parade and to get autographs from the players.

Mason Amergian, who pitched and played catcher for the team, was swarmed by autograph seekers at Douglas Field, many of whom were younger than him. Amergian said he had never signed autographs before. One woman who approached Amergian seeking an autograph predicted it was a sign of a bright future. Amergian said he hopes to reach Major League Baseball one day.

As for the large crowd that turned out Sunday, Amergian said he was not surprised.

“I’m not shocked. This town has always been great to us and has always had our backs,” Amergian said before turning to sign more autographs.


Amergian’s grandfather Joe Fuller said he couldn’t be any prouder of his grandson. Twenty teams were invited to compete in the Little League World Series. Fuller said it’s difficult to wrap his mind around the fact that a team from small towns in Maine made it. He said there are more than 6,500 leagues in the world.

“I tear up every time I see him,” Fuller said of his grandson. “I’m just so proud of him. He has definitely been humbled by all this.”

The Mainers were eliminated from the Little League World Series on Aug. 19 following a tense 5-3 loss to a team from Media, Pennsylvania, before a crowd of 22,809. Amergian pitched during that game, and he pitched well, allowing only seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

After making two errors and giving up three runs in the first inning, the team from Maine settled down and played the type of baseball that helped them win their first 12 postseason games. They tied the game 3-3 in the fourth inning, but the Pennsylvania team scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to move on.

Gray-NG lost its opening game of the double-elimination tournament 10-0 to a team from Northeast Seattle. Despite the losses, the games showed that the boys from Maine could compete with some of the best teams in the country.

Team manager Brad Shelley described the outpouring of community support for his team on Sunday as “phenomenal.”


“I expected a good turnout, but I didn’t expect anything like this. I’ve never seen this many people turn out for an event, not even for Memorial Day or July 4th,” Shelley said. “It means everything to the players, to the coaches and to the state of Maine.”

Sunday’s celebration will be followed by another parade Thursday. At 5 p.m., members of the Gray-NG little league team will get to parade around Hadlock Field with members of the Portland Sea Dogs.

According to the team’s Facebook page, the Little Leaguers will be honored with a photograph in front of Hadlock Field’s big green wall, the Maine Monster.

General Admission tickets for the event are $10 and a portion of the proceeds will go back to support the league.

While Maine’s Little League stars were being showered with praise, the Little League team from California on Sunday won the Little League World Series championship. California defeated Willemstad Curacao 6-5 with a walk-off home run.

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