PTC American Little League: ‘A class act’

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Competitors become friends — It’s a mixture of the world’s best Sunday, as members and coaches of the Peachtree City American Little League team (in yellow jersies) mingle with the World Series winner Hawaii after both teams received an unprecedented honor: A joint sportsmanship award. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.
Competitors become friends — It’s a mixture of the world’s best Sunday, as members and coaches of the Peachtree City American Little League team (in yellow jersies) mingle with the World Series winner Hawaii after both teams received an unprecedented honor: A joint sportsmanship award. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.

PTC team wins 4th in the world and respect of all at World Series

One act of kindness will define a highly successful trip for Peachtree City

WILLIAMSPORT, PA — The Little League World Series came to a close Sunday, and our home team, Peachtree City American, is now among the four best Little League teams in the world.

The accomplishment is mind-boggling for a team from a small town in Georgia, but it’s not even close to the team’s most memorable and generous act of the nearly two-week event.

As Peachtree City prepared to play Honolulu, Hawaii, in the United States Championship Saturday, the players from the West might have been a little distracted as a hurricane approached their home state nearly 4,000 miles away.

In an act that won’t be reported on nearly as much as their play on the field, Peachtree City American Little League, parents, players, and managers, made a donation to the Salvation Army for hurricane relief efforts in Hawaii.

“I have mad respect for Patrick (Gloriod) and his team,” Honolulu manager Gerald Oda said of the Peachtree City’s manager and players. “He’s a great guy. How he coaches his team with his coaches and how they play is actually a resemblance of our team. My coaches and I were talking before the U.S. Championship and said we are playing a team that looks just like us. It’s just a different part of the country.”

Prior to the U.S. Championship, Honolulu gave the Peachtree City team leis — those colorful necklaces of flowers denoting welcome and friendship — in a show of appreciation.

“My kids and the parents have been amazing,” Peachtree City manager Patrick Gloriod said. “I’m really proud of the way they’ve handled themselves through this whole tournament. They’ve really enjoyed the whole experience.”

Oda gave Gloriod a special lei that symbolized light. Oda gave it to him because in his view that’s what Gloriod has been for his kids throughout their run to the Little League World Series. In other words, Gloriod is guiding his kids down the right path through acts of kindness on and off the field.

“He’s the light for his kids and we see it,” Oda said.

Peachtree City Little League’s Tai Peete and Charlie Clem dance along side Southwest’s Charlie Wylie and Little League Mascot Dugout before the two teams play in an elimination game. Photo/Brett Crossley.
Peachtree City Little League’s Tai Peete and Charlie Clem dance along side Southwest’s Charlie Wylie and Little League Mascot Dugout before the two teams play in an elimination game. Photo/Brett Crossley.

The bonds between the kids from Honolulu and the Peachtree City boys are very easy to see.

“Every kid from Hawaii came up to us in the Grove and thanked us,” Gloriod said. “They came up and gave us all hugs. Everyone of them came up and thanked me and gave me a hug. They’re great kids.”

There was joking throughout the U.S. Championship to show the depths of the friendships achieved between the two teams. Connor Riggs-Soper and Tai Peete appeared to forget they were playing in front of thousands of people after a fifth inning intentional walk of Sean Yamaguchi.

After the West batter touched first, both Riggs-Soper and Peete yelled across the field and jokingly told Yamaguchi the intentional walk was their idea.

“It just continued all week,” Gloriod said of the bonding with Honolulu. “It was the morning before the game and I saw Wills (Maginnis) or Charlie (Clem) were walking toward some of the Honolulu players and they just started dancing with each other. The same dance that they do whenever they see each other. It’s pretty cool to see how close all the kids have gotten.”

Peachtree City’s Tai Peete celebrates scoring a game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Southwest. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.
Peachtree City’s Tai Peete celebrates scoring a game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Southwest. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.

Even after the game as Honolulu was named the top Little League team in the country it appeared their players were more concerned with consoling Peete and his teammates on the field.

Bonds will always be created when teams are housed together for nearly two weeks, but the ones shared by the West and Peachtree City seemed to run a little deeper.

“Hat’s off to Georgia,” Oda said. “We just have a lot of respect for them and their parents. We found out they made a donation to the Salvation Army to the hurricane relief for Hawaii. That’s just a reflection of those coaches and those kids and their parents. It really touched our hearts when we found out about it. What a class act.”

Whether it’s his lucky rosin bags or hating his new-found fame, Peete has been one of the most memorable players throughout the entire tournament. He has grown close with players from all over the world and left an impact that plenty will be talking about after the Series.

Peete is a special player. Despite not enjoying the fame that comes with being one of the top Little League players in the world, Peete has thrown balls out to kids, signed autographs, and created friendships with players that will seemingly last a lifetime.

“It has nothing to do with his athletic ability, he’s just a super nice kid,” Gloriod said. “I don’t think he’s ever met a stranger. He’s a great kid.”

Even the kids from Honolulu couldn’t hide how much getting to know Peete has meant to them.

Immediate after the game the Honolulu players reached out to Peete, as the Peachtree City team was stung by the bittersweet emotions of getting to watch their new friends progress one step further.

The Honolulu kids comforted the Peachtree City team. A special moment happened when Aukai Kea, the game-winning pitcher, hugged Peete and slapped him on the back. Not many words looked to be exchanged, but the act of kindness was enough as a slight smile crept across Peete’s face.

“We wanted to tell Georgia thank you, because they did such a selfless act by making a donation for the hurricane relief,” Oda said. “At the same time we were competitors, but we wanted them to know it’s just a game. We want these kids to remember that when they leave the field we want it to be a positive experience.”

Honolulu and Peachtree City will depart Williamsport having fully understood the true meaning of what the tournament was all about. They each will also leave with a team full of new friends to always have a reminder of a special time in their lives.

“It was all driven by the parents back at the hotel,” Gloriod said. “They put that together. It was a very cool gesture.”

The parents raised $500 for the fund, but passed a hat around during the U.S. Championship in an effort to raise even more money.

Peachtree City’s boys became ambassadors of friendship to the international community represented at the Series. “If you watched my kids,” Gloriod said at the postgame news conference, “they’re trying to make friends with everybody from every country, regardless of the language barriers. And it’s not just one or two kids, it’s all of them.”

And what about the Big Game, the one they just missed? “We’ll be rootin’ on the kids from Hawaii, whom my kids have gotten really close with. We love their coaches, so we’re gonna be there to support them,” Gloriod said.

Peachtree City Little League players stand on the foul line during the National Anthem before the United States Championship in Williamsport, PA.
Peachtree City Little League players stand on the foul line during the National Anthem before the United States Championship in Williamsport, PA. Photo/Brett R. Crossley.

After the Hawaii team claimed their top perch in the Little League world, beating South Korea 3-0, the boys from Hawaii and the boys from Georgia posed together to receive an unprecedented honor: For the first time in the 15 years of awarding the team trophy for good sportsmanship, Little League officials, the 16 participating teams, members of the media, volunteers and staff voted to make a joint award to the two teams — Hawaii and Peachtree City — who bonded in friendship even as they struggled competitively.

“We are honored to present this award to both teams and hope their display of sportsmanship will continue to inspire local Little League programs around the world,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO.

“They inspire us back home, and we both congratulate and thank them for their gift to us,” said The Citizen publisher, Cal Beverly. — Reported and photographed by By BRETT R. CROSSLEY, Special to The Citizen

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Dual sportsmanship award for first time goes to 2 teams

Honolulu (Hawaii) Little League and Peachtree City (Ga.) Little League have been named the co-recipients of the 2018 Jack Losch Little League Baseball World Series Team Sportsmanship Award.

This year marks the first time in the award’s 15-year history that there have been two teams presented with the award.

“The amount of sportsmanship, character, and respect that these two teams have displayed throughout this World Series has truly been remarkable and fully exemplifies the values and spirit that the award represents,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We are honored to present this award to both teams and hope their display of sportsmanship will continue to inspire local Little League programs around the world.”

Voted on by the 16 participating teams, coaches, team hosts, volunteers, members of the media, and the staff within the Dr. Creighton J. Hale International Grove, the Jack Losch Little League Baseball World Series Team Sportsmanship Award recognizes the team that exemplifies a tremendous amount of sportsmanship both on and off the field, including the team’s time in the dormitories, dining hall, and interview room as well as their performance on the field.

Throughout the entire Little League Baseball World Series, Honolulu Little League and Peachtree City Little League have exemplified tremendous displays of sportsmanship, both on and off the field.

Following the news that Hurricane Lane was closing in on the state of Hawaii, Peachtree City Little League made a donation on behalf of Honolulu Little League to the hurricane relief fund for Hawaii.

In response to finding out about the donation, the Honolulu Little League team shared a special moment prior to their game by presenting members of Peachtree City Little League with Hawaiian leis to thank them and wish them luck prior to taking the field for the United States Championship game.

“We wanted to say thank you to Georgia for such a selfless act making that donation for us and we wanted to let them know that we wish them the best before the game,” said Gerald Oda, Honolulu Little League Manager. “It really has been an honor to play this game with Georgia and we wanted to show our appreciation. We call it aloha spirit, they call it southern hospitality. It’s the same thing. They are great people.”