If I gave a speech to a team after they were eliminated from the Little League World Series, it would probably be about the crappy umpiring. But Cumberland American coach Dave Belisle is more evolved than I, and his message to his Rhode Island squad after their 8-7 elimination loss to Chicago on Monday should be on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.
“Heads up high. Heads up high. I’ve gotta see your eyes, guys. There’s no disappointment in your effort – in the whole tournament, the whole season. It’s been an incredible journey.
“We fought. Look at the score – 8 to 7, 12 to 10 in hits. We came to the last out. We didn’t quit. That’s us. Boys, that’s us.
“The only reason why I’ll probably end up shedding a tear is that this is the last time I’m going to coach you guys. But I’m going to bring back with me, the coaching staff is going to bring back, you guys are going to bring back something that no one other team can provide – that’s pride. Pride.
“You had whole place jumping, you had the whole state jumping, you had New England jumping, you had ESPN jumping. Because you wanna know why? They like fighters. They like sportsmen. They like guys who don’t quit. They like guys who play the game the right way. We got down to the nitty gritty. We’re one of the best teams in the world. Think about that for a second. In the world. Now we need to go see our parents, because they’re so proud of you.
“But one more. I want everyone in for a big hug. I love you guys. I’m gonna love you forever. You’ve given me the most precious moment in my athletic and coaching career, and I’ve been coaching a long time, a loooong time. I’m getting to be an old man. I need memories like this. I need kids like this. You’re all my boys. You’re the boys of summer.
“So, for the last time, we’re going to yell ‘Americans': One, two, three- Americans!”
I have some problems with the Little League World Series — the naked commercialism, the elitism, the rabies-infested mascot — but moments like this tend to vindicate it somewhat. Nicely done.
— Little League (@LittleLeague) August 20, 2014