BERLIN — The sound of applause preceded even the bagpipes as the Berlin Little League All Stars made their way down Main Street during Sunday’s victory parade.
All of the town’s all-star teams placed well in the various tournaments and all were recognized for their accomplishments. Still, the primary attraction was the Under-10 All Star Team that captured the Maryland State Championship and nearly the Eastern Regional Championship.
On the porch of the Taylor House Museum where he would soon open the Peach Festival, Mayor Gee Williams congratulated all the teams but singled out the team that went the farthest in tournament play.
“I’m proud and honored to do something that no other mayor in the history of Berlin has done,” he said before congratulating the first Berlin Little League team ever to capture the state title.
Williams pointed out that the Berlin Little League, which has among the smallest pool of potential players, placed second out of 1,550 teams in tournament play leading up to the regional finals. The team that prevented Berlin from taking that crown as well came from a New York town with a larger population that all of Worcester County.
League President Nornie Bunting recounted the successes of all of the all-stars, noting close second finishes in district play for nearly every team fielded. He also addressed the team selection process, which he said was a bit controversial among some of the parents.
In addition to coach recommendations, each player must be voted in by his peers to be invited to play on the Berlin Little League All Star squad at every level, making it not too unlike the NFL Pro Bowl where the players nominates the best of the best.
Those selected for the under-10 team proved their supporters right, going 17-3 in tournament play. Bunting added that he had saved some important statistics to help put the team’s accomplishments in perspective.
For example, Berlin outscored its opponents 233-67 over the course of the tournaments, giving up a full third of their runs in the final game, which New York took 22-0. The other two games they lost were close losses and many of the other games they won were called after the fourth inning because Berlin had so outscored its opponents.
Bill McDonough, the team’s manager, spoke briefly but emotionally about the boys’ performance and heart but also about the town and region that answered the call when the team needed funding to make the trip to the Mid Atlantic Finals.
Although the team carries the town’s name, many players come from elsewhere in northern Worcester County. In addition, people and businesses from all over the county chipped in to make sure the team had the money to make the trip.
This might be the first team to make it to the finals, but it is unlikely to be the last with so many second-place finishes around the league.