"We spent our entire childhoods in the service of our country, and no one even knew we were there." - Pat Conroy
2014 BERLIN Little League Gathering in Williamsport, PA
22-24 August 2014
What do you say to a friend you haven't seen in 54 years? How about you walk up shake hands, and then you grin and hug each other. Some look much like they did in 1960. Some, you walk by and don't recognize.
Seven team members from the Berlin 1960 Little League (Pat Williams, John Reale, Ed Cole, Ray Williams, Bruce Jager, Mike Glaser and Charles Spannare, wives, girlfriends and grandkids) showed up on Friday, August 22, at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The son, two daughters and family members of Coach Don Thompson also honored us with their presence. Friday afternoon we wound up at a restaurant across the street from the Genetti hotel sitting around a table with big smiles on our faces. Man, it was so wonderful to see old friends! We were all older but some things had never changed. John Reale still needed a shave, and Ed's hair is still a little red. Me, I just sit there with my wife and listened to old and new stories. It was an unbelievable moment.
Friday night, we had a reception at the hotel and had a chance to display memorabilia. Bruce had an old hat from his Bear’s team, others had scrapbooks and the Thompson family had Don's "Outpost of Democracy" blue jacket. It was a great evening to get reacquainted. I believe we all slept well. Breakfast started for me at about 7am and Ray had beaten me there. Ray and I shared a cup of coffee until the Reales showed up and pretty soon everyone was around tables listening to each other and sharing their last 54 years. Saturday afternoon the 7 players and some of the others saw the two semi games at the stadium after touring the Little League museum. Ed Cole bought everyone hats for the reunion. They matched our cool blue shirts. Many people stopped us and asked about the team. A couple people asked for autographs from us and where they could buy the "Outpost of Democracy” shirts that we were wearing. Things were building up and we didn't even know it!
Saturday night, we had a catered dinner. Boy that was fun! Everyone took a few minutes to stand and say whatever they wanted to. We all found out that as a group we had really made a difference in many lives, ranging from being a Jet pilot to writing top ten songs and everything In between. There was lots of laughing and a few tears. The food was ok, but the way everyone acted like we had never been apart was the best thing about the evening. The Thompson family really brought an extra dynamic to the evening. Coach Don Thompson had a wonderful life and his family shared how he loved the team, and how it was close to his heart his whole life.
Sunday came around and we all headed to the field. The people from the Little League had been great for a couple days, and now unknown to us it was going to get even better! Before the final game, we were brought into a media room, then we were escorted onto the field. The Chicago team was taking infield and we were right there on the field watching. The guys were beginning to get big eyes. They had us march out to second base with the 1939 team and 1964 championship teams. As we lined up, I looked around. 30,000 people were looking at us, and were proud of representing Berlin and are families. Men in their 60's had the look of a 12 year old boy again and tears were shed! We were introduced one by one and asked to step forward as our name was called. It was a special time for a giddy group of men. I thought Ed Cole was going to take the mound and pitch. The National Anthem was sung, and we slowly headed to the dugout. We didn't want to get off the field but gave into the game. We were a little speechless as we took our seats.
One by one we had to leave and head back home. We vowed to meet again in 2020 if not sooner. Friendships were rekindled, and we found out who made John jump off the 10 meter diving board that scarred him for life. No one would admit to the writing on the sidewalk about a girl at Williamsport in 1960. Some of the best things that were said came in emails after the weekend. Charles Spannare said he thought that George Will had spoken of the traditions of baseball and how it bound people, helped build relationships between father and sons, multiple generations and people of other cultures. The weekend was a testimony to that truth!
1960 Little League World SeriesThe Berlin Command Little League became the first European entry in the Little League World Series.
The final game was broadcast live on ABC national television for the first time.
1960 Burning & Drying the Field to play
Burning & drying the field so we could play the last game in European championship.
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1960 BERLIN All Star Little League Team
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Berlin Observer Article.
A very special thank you to the following for helping make all this happen! - Cate Speer '85 WebBrat
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