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Federal conjures up good ol' days

August 15, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

Many moons ago -- about 45 to be exact -- I was a 12-year-old playing Little League baseball in Dover, Ohio, where I spent 11 years of my youth.

I can't help but to draw a personal comparison to Federal's Andrew Yacyk, the talented 5-foot-11 left-hander who has been one of the main cogs in the drive to Williamsport.

There are two differences in Andrew and myself -- he throws with his left hand and he's headed to the Little League World Series.

It's great to be tall when you are such a young age.

I was like Andrew at 12 -- six feet tall and ready to rip every baseball I could over the fences.

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I pitched (like Andrew), was a catcher, played some second base and -- when the coach really wanted me out of the way defensively -- I played right field.

I remember our sponsor team name -- Weaver Motors -- like the back of my hand and still have an old team picture in my books of memoirs.

In the second season, I got my fill of hitting home runs -- 24 of them in, I think, 14 games. I was OK at the plate as long as I didn't see a kid by the name of Dean Burkhart -- he was a righty that could drop a curveball off the table and give me trouble.

I remember one game I pitched and hit three homers -- we won 8-1. I threw a one-hitter. It was a home run to dead center. The only reason it wasn't caught because the young fellow in the outfield was about 4-feet-6 and missed catching it by a couple of inches.

But something happened along the way. We got knocked out of the tournament early. We were bummed. We knew it was soon going to be time to concentrate on football and we weren't ready for that. The summer was over.

Another thing happened moving into Prep League. I stopped growing and my bat went dead.

Hopefully, Andrew Yacyk won't stop growing. More importantly, his bat remain potent and his arm will stay live in Williamsport.

In a small measure, I can imagine how excited the kids from Federal have been and how much more excited they are now that they are part of the Williamsport experience.

To all the members of the team, here's some wishes for the best as you head into the biggest experience of your young lives.

Tim Koelble is a sports writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com.

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