South Mountain makes fans proud

July 27, 1997


Staff Writer

Little League baseball fever in Hagerstown continued to gain momentum Saturday night when several hundred fans turned out at Staley Park to watch South Mountain make a run at the Maryland state championship.

"This is the first time they've gone this far. It's quite an honor," said Delores Grim of Sharpsburg, who came to back the local team, which beat St. Mary's American, 12-9.

With the help of national attention given to Hagerstown's National Little League, the excitement of the state tournament in town has created a stir among fans. Many have dropped erased the lines of their various affiliations to come together to root for the South Mountain team, even if it means hitting the road.


Film crews from ABC Sports have shooting footage of the local games for a documentary on Little League baseball.

The winner of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament will advance to the Eastern Regional in Bristol, Conn., which begins next month. The regional winner will advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

"I think if South Mountain wins, I might have to take a trip," said Frank Reel of Hagerstown, another interested spectator.

South Mountain's earned a berth in the state tournament last week by defeating the Hagerstown's National All-Stars for the District 1 championship. Boonsboro area residents, teeming with pride, showed its support of the team by hanging banners on fire halls and displaying encouraging words on the side of buildings.

The excitement was all across the county, even among National All-Star fans, who turned out Saturday for the opening-night festivities.

"It's nice of have a tournament like this anywhere in Hagerstown," said Bill Stevens of Hagerstown.

Fans with children and lawn chairs in tow trickled into the park. Some teamed up to add vocal support. "We'll be coming around the mountain when we come. We'll be coming around the mountain when we come. South Mountain!"

For many, the games were a chance to relive old memories of Little League baseball in Hagerstown. Reel said when he used to play behind in the old American Legion field behind Super Shoes. Those games used to last up to three hours.

Today, the game is much faster, some just taking just a little over an hour to complete, Reel said.

"The size of the players amazes me," said Reel, noting that some of today's players stand 6-feet tall.

Fans crowded onto aluminum bleachers around the home plate to cheer the home team, while others stood from the parking lot to watch the game. Watching professional baseball in an air-conditioned house may have been a little more comfortable, but the humidity wasn't enough to keep fans away.

Dick Winters of Hagerstown said he would rather watch the kids play ball becuase they don't "spit, kick and walk off" like the professional players.

"Their wonderful to watch," he said.

"It's not a business to them," added Dean Martin of Smithsburg.

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