Credit: Courtesy Photo
The McAllister Park All-Stars beat Lufkin 9-0 last week in Waco to win the Southwest Region title and earn a berth in the Little League World Series for the second time in four years.
Friday, Aug 17 at 5:42 PM
UPDATE: The current score at 4:01 p.m. Friday is 5 to 2, McAllister over New Jersey.
To borrow from baseball legend Yogi Berra, it's like déjà vu all over again for McAllister Park Little League.
Three years after a team of McAllister Park all-stars became the first from San Antonio to earn a berth in the Little League World Series, MPLL is again representing the Southwest Region in the showcase event of youth sports.
McAllister Park plays the Mid-Atlantic champ at 2 p.m. Friday at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa., where the 2009 MPLL all-stars lost in the U.S. title game and finished fourth in the tournament. The Mid-Atlantic team is from Parsippany, N.J.
Two players on this year's MPLL team, Seth Morrow and Jack Scarborough, have brothers who played on the 2009 squad, Zach Morrow and Tanner Scarborough.
Coached by Jack Wideman, the MPLL all-stars won the Southwest Region crown with a 9-0 victory over a team from Lufkin last Thursday in Waco.
After returning to San Antonio on Friday, the champs traveled to Dallas by bus on Saturday to catch a flight to South Williamsport, a small town located about 130 miles from Philadelphia.
"It's been like a movie, like a dream," Wideman said. "The stadium is something to see. It's cut into a hill and they have the lights on every night. When you first see it, it's like, 'Wow, we're here.'
"I always wanted to come here with my son since he started playing T-ball, so it's been a great experience for me personally. When we won in Waco, it was just an unreal feeling to know that we were going to the World Series again. It's so much fun to see the kids play their heart out."
McAllister's 2009 team lost in U.S. title game
Wideman's son, Landry, is one of 13 players on the Southwest champions' roster. The players, all of whom will be in the seventh grade this year, were 11 or 12 when the season started. Twelve of the 13 players attend middle school at Bradley, Bush, Eisenhower, Jackson or Tejeda, all in the North East ISD. One player is a student at Buckner Fanning Christian School.
McAllister Park's 2009 team went 3-0 in pool play before losing to eventual champion Chula Vista, Calif., representing the West Region, in the U.S. championship game. Mexico edged the San Antonians 5-4 in the third-place game.
Although McAllister Park fell short three years ago, Wideman said the team long will be remembered as the first team from San Antonio to play in the Little League World Series.
"They opened up doors for us," Wideman said. "It had never happened for us, like the Spurs before 1999. San Antonio never believed we could win the NBA title until the Spurs did it in 1999. That's the way we were until 2009, but now our kids believe and our parents believe.
"We had other good teams that were right on the doorstep, but couldn't quite make it. Things are different now."
Wideman coached McAllister teams in younger age divisions to the state finals each of the past two years.
Big crowd expected for McAllister's first game
Wideman, 51, said he talked at length with Mike Shull, the coach of the MPLL's 2009 all-star team, before leaving for South Williamsport.
"Mike is a very big part of this team," Wideman said. "He's been a big influence and was instrumental in putting this team together. He told us that with hard work, we could get back to the World Series.
"He gave me about 40 dos and don'ts. It was all good stuff. He still coaches in our league and he talks to the kids all the time. That's the great thing about McAllister Park. Everybody helps everybody."
Besides practicing daily since Monday, the MPLL all-stars have participated in a variety of activities related to the World Series, including a parade Wednesday.
"There were 50,000 people at the parade," Wideman said. "It was just nuts. I couldn't believe there would be that many people, just for Little Leaguers. It was like a Spurs event. They're expecting 25,000 for our first game."
Wideman and his players also have enjoyed a respite from the oppressive San Antonio heat during their stay in South Williamsport.
"We practiced from 2 to 4 today (Thursday)," Wideman said. "It was a nice day – 68 degrees."