With all the other wonderful things the Coronavirus has wiped out this summer, it’s easy to overlook them.
What COVID-19 did to them is perhaps the cruelest thing of all.
I refer to District 51 Little League Baseball, and our Valley’s greatest unsung sports heroes.
The angels who run our local little league snack bars.
You may recall the kerfuffle a year ago at this time that threatened to shut down these snack bars.
It was a, ah, let’s call it creatively interpreted, Health Code statute that threatened to lump snack bars in the same group with restaurants.
Instead, what our local snack bar angels did was give their children a lesson in grassroots democracy.
With Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office serving as honest broker, rightfully irate Little League parents and utterly misunderstood County Health Dept. officials got together to work the problem out.
The parents listened.
So did the county health officials.
The two actually forged a public-private partnership, with the health officials advising the parents on how to bring their snack bars into compliance without sacrificing their local treasuries.
Civics classes in school should only be so informative.
Last Friday marked my 38th anniversary of moving to the Valley.
Little League Baseball was one of the first involvements I had with my new adopted hometown.
I would turn pages of boxscores into little league narrative that covered whole pages of the late Daily Ledger Gazette.
It’s how I first met the Eberhardts, and American Indian Little League coach John Rush. His kids showed me how to open a can of kick-butt.
Thirty-eight years later Mike, Jolayne and Todd Eberhart, and John Rush, and successful Valley basketball coach D.J. Hein remain some of my most treasured friends.
They hinted at what a special place my adopted hometown was.
If Little League could have that kind of impact on a grown man, imagine what it does for the kids on the field.
For only child kids, it’s the first hint of sibling interaction.
It’s the first taste of the life-shaping lessons that only sports seem able to teach these days.
Being chosen to present the Merle Guenther Perpetual Trophy to the MVP of the City Series was an annual honor for me.
Two of those former winners, Jim Slaton and Kevin Appier, went on to combine for 319 major league victories and our Valley’s only two World Series pitching appearances.
The vast majority of those kids grew up to be devoted sons, brothers, husbands and fathers, the pillars of our community in the 21st Century.
And their parents’ thankless hundreds of hours in the snack bar made for unforgettable family memories.
You know who you are.
Today, you once again have our undying admiration and gratitude.
This year, perhaps more than ever.