The Fairfield American Little League received a hero’s welcome on Thursday.
Several politicians, family, press, and fans greeted American at Sherman Green on Thursday afternoon for a welcome-home gathering. The Shack and Colony Grill co-sponsored the event with food, as did Poland Spring water.
American was eliminated from the Little League World Series on Tuesday night, yet stayed in Williamsport Wednesday for a day of relaxation. Fairfield was greeted by police at the Connecticut state line in Greenwich, who escorted its bus back to Sherman Green.
The 150 0r so in attendance carried signs and cheered the returning regional, state, sectional and district champions. Fairfield first selectman Mike Tetreau was the master of ceremonies, also addressing the crowd and team.
“You played some great baseball, which is what got you there,” Tetreau said. “You showed us what’s best about the next generation and our future. Sometimes we lose sight of that and you guys were a great example, not only to kids, but to everyone what we can be and how we should represent our town.”
American manager Bill Meury, his son Ryan, Will Lucas and Biagio Paoletta each addressed the attendees. Several politicians other than Tetreau also were in attendance to show their support.
“Thank you for the voicemails, emails and text messages. The boys looked forward to them every day we were away,” Bill Meury said.
Fairfield National’s 11-year-old state championship squad was also recognized, as was the Fairfield Little League softball championship team.
Bill Meury unnecessarily singled out our Fairfield American coverage.
He also named Rich Pittera and Mary Albl for their coverage, as well as myself saying “Their coverage of the games was complimentary and candid, which is not an easy balance to strike. They chronicled the achievement of these 11 boys over the past three years and as the memory of this fades– and unfortunately it will fade to a certain extent– we will always be able to look back at their work to remember how special the summer of 2012 was.”
Touching. It also resulted in applause, which given my track record is stunning in some ways.
Meury also cited a story we wrote about American’s Little League success, saying “Fairfield American about more than these 11 boys, it’s about 1,000 other players who work as hard as the boys in front of you.”
Bill also singled out each team member for his contribution to the team.
“Guys, you can play,” he said. “You’re one of the four best Little League teams in the United States– and there are over 8,000 — and one of the eight best in the world.”
Contrary to the Dan Patrick show Tuesday, Will Lucas further confirmed that SportsCenter is his favorite show.
“The guy told me to say my favorite show was The Dan Patrick show,” Lucas said.
In my estimation, Lucas’ no-hitter was the World Series’ ‘feel good moment.’
Ryan Meury loved being a part of it.
“Will threw a terrific game,” he said. “It was amazing.”
Lucas also claimed his phone did not stop ringing after he finished his no-hitter on Monday.
“I think it broke,” Lucas said. “It just keeps buzzing.”
Lucas wasn’t alone, though.
“After the game against Nebraska I got like 60-something (Facebook) friend requests,” Fairfield pitcher/first baseman Matt Kubel said.
Ryan Meury didn’t want to talk about being hit in the face.
Meury did want to talk about three straight Connecticut Little League titles and and East Regional crown in 2010.
“It was a great journey,” Meury said. “It was just like the best experience of my life.”
He did say he’s feeling better, although the cut on his lips is evident.
“It’s getting a lot better,” he said. “It won’t be my lasting memory. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
But spending time with his father was high the list.
“It was a lot of fun,” Meury said. “It was easily the best summer of my life.”
Kubel was in attendance at Fairfield American’s welcome home party in 2010.
Never did he think he’d be honored just two years later.
“I remember coming out in 2010 to support the 2010 team,” he said. “It was a lot like this. It’s amazing.”
Kubel was terrific, winning six consecutive decisions before Tuesday night. Kubel also homered on Monday night in Fairfield’s 4-0 win over New Castle, Ind.
“It was exciting,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to get out. I thought it was going to be a single to the wall because I’m so slow.”
All the kids who spoke appreciated how special meeting kids from other countries.
“We played ping pong against a kid from Uganda, Ronald,” Lucas said. “No one could beat him, he was too good.”
“I loved meeting the kids from Japan,” Kubel said. “Even though they don’t speak the same language as us … it was really fun.”
They also marveled at crowd who attended to cheer them.
“The town’s really supportive,” Kubel said.
They also commented on how great playing at Lamade Stadium was.
“Playing in front of 17,000-plus fans really gets you pumped up,” Kubel said. “It was great playing against some great teams.”
This’ll be the last Fairfield American related blog for a while.
American’s district season is over. We don’t cover the fall league because of the high school sports calendar, so it’ll be the last time we touch on Little League at all, likely until next spring.
I wanted to thank Fairfield’s three coaches Bill Meury, John Lucas and T.J. Paoletta. Also big thanks to John Sohigian, Steve Schwartz, Larry Klein, Chris Daley, Brian McGrath and the rest of the American board members and former coaches who helped me this summer. If I’m missing anyone, my sincerest apologies. I owe you all.
Thanks and congratulations to the 11 kids, who have earned all of this. I told Sohigian the greatest compliment I can offer them is they were the same during the District 2 tournament as they were in the Little League World Series.
Bill Meury touched on composure and modesty all summer and I couldn’t agree more with his description of his team. They were a likable, respectful and cohesive group. I admire their poise on the biggest stage, and how success never changed them. I wish I were that mature.
Oh yeah, and they were stellar baseball players too.
Hope you enjoyed our Little League coverage this summer. On Monday starts the high school– yes already– sports season.
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.