By Kevin Eickman
On a warm, early summer evening, for a little while, a sense of normalcy returned to Milford last Thursday. All be it altered for health and safety issues; the Major League Division of Milford Little League continued its season. While there were not the huge crowds that usually accompany the festivities of a typical Milford Little League night, those in attendance and on the field were treated to an exciting game that allowed them to forget about what has been a mentally taxing time for almost everyone.
Those in attendance were treated to an exciting game between the Yankees and the Phillies. In what looked like was going to be a blowout win for the Phillies, the Yankees showed great resiliency after falling behind 10-2 in just the third inning. The Yankees showed resolve in chipping away at the Phillies’ lead, eventually closing the gap to 10-8 as they refused to yield. The Phillies were able to gather themselves and shut down the opposition over the final two innings, in large part due to the pitching of Landon Short who came in to seal the deal for the Phillies.
Speaking with Phillies coach Chris Short offered nothing but praise for both squads and the way they battled during the game. “We had a very nice lead and you kind of think that you are going to be able to sit back and enjoy an easy victory,” he said. “You have to tip your hat to the Yankees though, they dug deep and got themselves back in the game. If not for Landon being as dominant as he was the last two innings, we easily could have ended up losers in this game.” With the win, the Phillies avenged their season-opening loss to the Yankees as both teams boast identical 3-1 records.
While the game itself was exciting, the fact that Milford Little League was able to play a season at all, is a testament to the community. There were a lot of tough decisions that had to be made, the hardest was how the league would be configured. In a perfect world, everyone would have gotten to play. With all the different divisions, both baseball and softball, there simply weren’t the resources to make it all happen. The decision was made to simply play Major League Baseball, which is typically when the 12-year old play their final season in Little League. After 12, they usually go onto middle school and travel ball, it is really the last time that these players who have been together since T-ball, will spend on the same team.
Speaking with board member Steve Thein, the decision to go with just Major Leagues was a difficult one. “We really had to consider all our options, looking at the logistics of it all, it came down to a very difficult decision. We knew that we could do this one league, staying within the Department of Health’s guidelines,” he said. “We really did receive a lot of understanding and support from the parents, which was very important. It was not an easy decision to just go with one league, but in the end everyone understood.” When asked about how the players were enjoying the experience Thein responded, “They are having a great time, they have gone through a lot and just to get on the field and play ball has been very refreshing for them, as well as the community.”
Thein became active in Milford Little League about 10 years ago, when he found himself walking his greyhound Hawk and looking for social interaction. Thein serves primarily as the public address announcer with his lovable sidekick at his side. The beautiful greyhound is a fan favorite too. “Every time we come to the field, the kids and parents just love seeing Hawk,” he said. Thein loves the fact that everyone enjoys seeing the dog. “You can always hear them saying ‘Look, there goes Hawk.’ It’s really fantastic.”