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Little League Champs Get Heroes' Welcome

Tired, but happy, Petaluma National Little League returns home Monday

Petaluma National Little League players rolled into town Monday in a white Hummer limo accompanied by a police escort, a welcome befitting the community heroes they have become.

News helicopters circled overhead and cameras snapped as the young baseball stars were greeted by well-wishers, including those who had traveled from other cities to see the players.

“This has been one incredible ride,” said team manager Eric Smith. “As coaches we couldn’t be more proud of how well the boys did and how far they took this community.”

The 13 players looked happy, but tired and overwhelmed as Smith introduced each one to the audience. As each boy's name was mentioned, the crowd roared and waved homemade signs. Some of the boys spoke, thanking the crowd for the unwavering support.

Petaluma resident Peggy Tiernan was among the hundred or so who came out to the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds to welcome the team. “They are the greatest team in the world,” she gushed. “These boys are never going to forget this experience as long as they live.”

The past month has indeed been an unexpected journey for the team who left home 27 days ago to attend the West Coast Regional Champions in San Bernardino. There they snagged the West Coast title and were soon on their way to the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.

They won three games and lost two, including last Saturday, when they lost 24-16 to the undefeated Little League team from Goodletsville,Tenn. The next day they made a comeback, winning the consolation game against a team from Panama 12-4.

The Kitasuna Little League team from Tokyo, Japan won the world title, which it has claimed for the past five years.

But Petaluma coaches only praised the boys for the mental focus, stamina and ability to work together, saying the success was the culmination of years of practice.

"They have nothing to be ashamed about. They're the third-best team in the world and second-best in the United States,” said Andre Davis, a Petaluma Little League board member Andre Davis. “I'm O.K. with that."

Petaluma Downtown Association posted the following message on their Facebook page:

"The dream was to get there and play, completely surpassed every hurdle and created Little League history. They did it with dignity, manners determination and heart no one could not ask for more. Thank you for the laughter, excitement and even the tears. You united us and put us firmly on the map - PETALUMA IS SO PROUD!"

On Sunday, Petaluma will hold a parade for the team, starting at 1pm at Walnut Park in downtown Petaluma, which will feature a confetti machine, highlights from the games and a large card supporters can sign.

Kimberley Peterson Roberts August 28, 2012 at 04:12 PM
These boys did great and what a joy it must have been for all of those parents to be a part of those memorable days that no one will ever forgert. Oh but don't forget about the mother that was a manager of a CPA firm that was fired by her boss because she went to see her son play their last game against Tennesse. She even had the vacation time built up. Boy would I love to know the name of the firm. Those are the kind of people a person should not do business with. Her name was Billie Ann Tomei and I am greatfully sorry you lost your job to be there for your son and your husband who is a coach for your son. You are better off not having a boss of that nature. His Karma will get him!!!!!!!!
Bill Fishman August 28, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I was struck by the contrasting comments from the returning heroes, yesterday. Amid the triumphant "whoops" came statements that show that these are still kids: one who just wanted to sleep in his own bed again; and another who just wanted to get home and see his sister. Priceless.
Kimberley Peterson Roberts August 28, 2012 at 04:32 PM
They are Kids. Kids to be proud of. That employer should be ashamed of themselves especially if she business is in Petaluma.
tony August 28, 2012 at 04:44 PM
You're right Kimberly. The boss couldn't have put a sign on the door and a message on the recorder? 99% of his clients not only would've understood they'd be supportive. Ebeneezer Scrooge is alive and well in Petaluma!
Xyzzy August 28, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Holy cow -- somebody should post the firm's name so folks in the area know who to *not* support with their hard-earned dollars. Even if the boss doesn't own the place, my guess is that the person in charge (and/or owner) knows his attitude and is thus implicitly condoning it by keeping him as an employee.
Linda Focht August 29, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Linda Focht Everything that has been so far is soooo true. Let's give a little credit to the coach Eric Smith (right?). He should give seminars to all coaches everywhere! Petaluma little league, thank you for the ride.
Lori C August 29, 2012 at 03:31 AM
I have loved watching these little boys, but watching my 7 year old watch these boys is priceless. They are his heros. We to the movie theater as much as we could, where he sat and watched those games, not even wanting to get up to go to the restroom or get food! We went to the homecoming yesterday, which happened to by my sons birthday, where he was able to get some of their autographs. Everyone of them thanked my son! One even called him "buddy". My son was in heaven, "Mom, did you hear that he called me buddy!" I couldn't be happier that my son looks up to such a great group of boys. He is counting down the days to the parade on Sunday.
Andrew Haynes August 29, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Welcome Home Nats! You've made the whole town proud.

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