SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Only one team gets a championship banner at the Little League World Series. The swag, well, all of the pint-sized competitors walk off with a slew of goodies.
From bats to caps to collectible pins — even a Little League video game for the Nintendo Wii — players who make it to South Williamsport are rewarded with plenty of cool items for their trip home.
“It’s like Christmas in August for them around here,” said Bruce McDonald, a coach for the White Rock, British Columbia team.
The final four teams were off Friday. Games resume Saturday when Waipahu, Hawaii, plays Lake Charles, La., for the U.S. title and Tokyo meets Matamoros, Mexico, for the international crown. The World Series championship is Sunday.
Some of the new equipment given to all participants could get some use this weekend. Sponsors also set up shop under a tent a short walk away from the Little League dorms to give away items like new batting helmets. Catchers get their own catcher’s gear.
“Oh yeah, and the cleats are nice, too,” said Stuart McDonald, the coach’s 12-year-old son and a catcher on the Canadian team.
McDonald’s teammates heard about the gifts from last year’s British Columbia squad, which also qualified for South Williamsport, but were still surprised by the bounty.
“The kids knew it was going to happen, but it’s still unbelievable when you go up there and they are walking out with these bags,” Bruce McDonald said.
New this year among the giveaways is the Little League-sanctioned video game. They won’t be able to use it if they don’t have a Wii back home, but they did get to check it out at the players’ complex, where there was a video game room.
Some of the names on the game are similar to last year’s participants, noted Hagerstown, Md., outfielder Adam Blenckstone.
Will he buy the game next year to see if he’s in it?
“Definitely,” the 13-year-old said.