The small city of Williamsport, Pa first became a borough March 1, 1806. Late in the 19th Century Williamsport was known as "The Lumber Capital of the World" and once housed more millionaires per capita than anywhere else on the globe.
Now those reading and everyone else on the planet only know this City for housing the entire ESPN bustle for The Little League World Series.
The Little League World Series (LLWS) was founded in 1939, starting as a three team league which has grown into the media spectacle many witness on television or in person today.
It's a great yearly economic jolt for this sleepy mini metropolis, this former boom town in the logging industry has seen better days as many man and woman move seeking better career opportunities and larger salaries. However some home stead businesses are able to generate most of its yearly profit via this adolescent whirlwind in August. Not to mention how nice it is for the kids playing, for this type of experience, winning big on a national stage before even hitting the usual age of puberty.
This large thrust of profitability being jammed into two short and hazy weeks, of course have their downfalls. Especially if you are a local…
Like James Earl Jones' quote in the iconic movie about an old corn field in Iowa "If you build it they will come." Well Carl Stotz built it, and eventually they did come. And come they did! In droves, it's hard not to walk don't the sidewalks as a local and take notice to the extra amounts of bubble gum getting stuck on the bottom of your shoes, and the chewed up lolly pop sticks from the gargantuan about of youngsters being hustled through the city streets and up the road side to get to the stadium and other local fare.
For the most part when us "locals" speak to out of towners staying here for the Series they almost always make the comment that "Everyone here is sooo nice and friendly."
Whether or not this is just a clique remark to make us feel good or if it was just this Little Leaguer's mom trying to milk me for extra drinks at the bar, sometimes us locals just was to be left alone.
I think back to another movie, the great Bill Murray, in "What about Bob." As Bill's character Bob goes to find his psychiatrist in a tiny lakeside town, he purchases a novelty t-shirt that reads "Don't Hassel Me I'm a Local!"
Obviously it was poking fun at the fact that as a tourist be was attempting to camouflage himself, but would it be nice to have these as if they were a badge of sorts.
Notifying the large population of tourists that, we aren't here to get in line we just want to get to work on time, Please let us through. It is quite incredible to see how things have grown to reach all corners of the earth.
From all over the U.S., the Americas to Europe the Middle East, the Far East and the all the little islands between here and there. Each group seems to have their own traffic tendencies a couple of examples are; The Carolinas; The Carolinas seem to be among the dangerous drivers on our local streets and highways.
Driving on Route 15 North which glides right above the Little League Complex, I have witnessed several swerving and unacceptable driving habits by Carolina inhabitants who are probably too distracted by their Petey Pablo album from the early 2000's to pay attention to the road. Another, dangerous roadway situation is the larger groups here to support the Far East teams who get dumped off buy large tour busses and push across busy highways and streets as if being chased by a giant sea dwelling lizard. As some of them approach you they meet you quickly with the greeting "Ohayo"(pronounced: Ohio) sometimes us locals just want to scream in response "Yeah it's the next state over" as we gesture towards the West.
I've heard stories since I was a young child about how snipers are positioned throughout the LLWS complex and the surrounding mountains and building to potentially prevent any sort of terroristic threat to the young players and onlookers.
In the world we live in today as the Series becomes larger and larger and we must think it must look like an enormous vulnerable target to a group such as ISIS. However, the incredible thing about this nation stage being set in a more rural location in Pennsylvania in that every banjo playing bumbkin has a shot gun or deer rifle sitting the back of their pickup truck, and with more than likely neutralize and such threat before a more experienced law enforcement can be notified. The world is safe in the hands of the locals.
For all of the economics burst during the LLWS, there is also a reduction in action. One that sticks out to me is The Williamsport Crosscutters. The Crosscutters are Williamsport's Single A farm team, who play in the second oldest baseball stadium in the Country; Bowman Field. However, the home games in mid to late August are blinded by the fascination of the children playing baseball a few miles away.
The Historic Bowman Field sits nearly empty, the athletes playing for practically no one reminds us of a Tampa Bay Rays home game in September. As the Crosscutters depart their beloved stadium, they gaze across 4th Street and stare at the small dusty field across from Bowman where Little League Baseball started, and question their existence and ask why are these "Smart assed, bubble gum chewing, little bastards, putting move cheeks in the seats than we are?" Another question I cannot answer.
Maybe it's because most people played the game at some point or another in their life, and it takes them back to their glory days. Well those days are not so glorified when you were a hell of a young ball player and the leagues President has a son who ALSO played 3rd base who was picked to be in All-Stars over you. Okay so he had two more homeruns that year than I did, but I know I beat him in every other category, except strikeouts, and errors. That All-Star team didn't advance to the LLWS anyway, but I always think could I have made the difference? Maybe we could have been able to make that trip just over the mountain to get the national attention we deserved?? We will never know….