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Federal stars ham it up for ESPN

August 11, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BRISTOL, Conn. -- When asked what was the best part about being interviewed by ESPN on Saturday evening, Federal Little League 12-year-old Josh Moats kept it simple: "We got to meet some people on TV, like Karl Ravech from Baseball Tonight."

The host of ESPN's popular baseball highlights show was a big hit with the Maryland state champions, as ESPN held interviews in preparation for tonight's Mid-Atlantic Regional championship game against Pennsylvania champion Devon Strafford Little League.

"We got to meet the people on Baseball Tonight and the producers," Mark Grunberg said.

"I actually wasn't expecting it to be the people from Baseball Tonight. I thought it would just be random people asking us questions," Adam Blenckstone said.

"It was a lot of fun," Federal manager Bill Abeles Jr. said. "Doug (Hornbecker) and I were in the background and they had the kids around the table. They didn't want to know the typical things like who's your favorite ballplayer, they wanted to know about the dormitory experience and what the kids thought about Doug and I. The responses were kind of cute."

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Brady Hornbecker was asked about the team's good-luck charm -- and told the tale of its near-death experience at the hands of the Hornbeckers' family dog Bettis, named after retired Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

"(The good-luck charm) is a plastic horse we had since the first game against Valley," Hornbecker said. "Our dog got to it right before the first game at states. It just has some holes in it, but we still have it."

The Federal players got a chance to tell the producers a little bit about Hagerstown's baseball history.

"We went in there and a guy was asking us where we were from, and he mentioned the Hagerstown Suns," Adam Blenckstone said. "I told him my family used to own the team."

And in an unsurprising twist given the nature of 12-year-olds, a few stories were told that some players may have wished had stayed private.

"They told them how Nick Karlen, before every game, he has to expel gas," Abeles said. "He stinks up the dugout and the dormitory and it lasts a while."

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