Monday September 10, 2012

BOSTON -- A baseball summer to remember officially came to an end Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

That's where the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 15-year old All-Stars were recognized for making it to the World Series last month.

"It just sent a chill down my spine. It's awesome," said Bobby New of the ovation he, his teammates and the other athletes received. "In Fenway Park, having people cheer for you is great."

The Pittsfield players gathered in their uniforms outside of Fenway on Sunday morning, and were introduced to the sellout crowd of 37,226 prior to the start of Sunday's game against Toronto. The players received a warm ovation and then retreated to their bleacher seats.

"You see [Fenway Park] on TV and it's totally different" in person, Pittsfield's Steve Witkowski said. "It's totally different on the field. Being next to the Green Monster, you figure out how tall it is."

Manager Bob Shade's Pittsfield team was one of 10 New England champions of Babe Ruth-affiliated baseball and softball teams who were honored in pregame ceremonies.

Sox shortstop Mike Aviles smiled when he pondered the answer to a reporter's question. He never would have had the chance to do what the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 15s did.

"I know I never got the opportunity. I can only imagine that at 14 or 15 years old, you look up to big league players," he said. "It's pretty much what you want to do as a kid. It's all I ever wanted to do.

"It's an honor, I'm sure for them. I'm definitely excited for them to see how excited and happy they are."

Five New England Cal Ripken Baseball champions, three Babe Ruth baseball champions and two Babe Ruth softball champions came out on the outfield warning track in front of the Green Monster to a rousing ovation from the fans in attendance. One of the teams here was the 13-year old Babe Ruth All-Star team from Westfield. Westfield beat Pittsfield to win the New England championship and travel to Washington State for its World Series.

The long journey the Pittsfield 15s took began with a school bus trip to Boston when they left on their plane trip to Van Buren, Ark. This bit of baseball closure also began with a school bus trip to Boston.

"It took me a while" to get to sleep Saturday night, Pittsfield's Anthony Jones said. "I got up early for this. I don't get up early for school. This I got up early for."

The best part of the day?

"Just seeing the field and stuff," Pittsfield's Kevin Donati said. "Being able to go on the field was really fun."

It was the kind of day the Pittsfield players and coaches will remember for a long time. It was also the kind of day Aviles said with a laugh he never experienced.

"Nowhere," he said, when asked how far his youth baseball teams traveled. "Just a couple of All-Star teams, that was about it. I know we had districts and things like that, but we never made it too, too far. My teams weren't always that good."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.