In the Pipeline: A show of heart from Little League

May 20, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Donovan Phillips, 11, Sowers Middle School, left, and Sean McCrimmon, 11, Sowers Middle School, display the number 57 the Seaview Little League teams wear in honor of Greg Willard, a former NBA referee and Huntington Beach resident who was a member of the Seaview Little League board.
Donovan Phillips, 11, Sowers Middle School, left, and… (Chris Epting )

The playoffs are upon us. I'm not referring to the NBA or the NHL, though there are some terrific series taking place in those leagues. I'm talking about Little League baseball here in Huntington Beach, where, as the Jeff Pratto-led Ocean View team showed us a couple of seasons ago, it is never too early to start dreaming about the World Series in Williamsport.

Surf City, USA could just as easily be called Little League City, USA given the strength of our local teams. But beyond playoff baseball, there are some other things going on within the Seaview Little League district that transcend the sport in a number of thoughtful ways.

Last Saturday morning my son and I were watching a round 1 playoff game at LeBard Park. The Seaview Tigers defeated the Nationals 4-0 in a game that was very well pitched by both sides. After the game, Annette Phillips, whose son plays for the Nationals, told me more about why the season has been a little more special.


First, she called attention to the number "57" that adorns the sleeve of each player's uniform in the Seaview Little League. It's a memorial to Greg Willard, a longtime Huntington Beach resident and member of the Seaview community who passed away on April 1 this year after a nine-month battle of pancreatic cancer.

A much beloved figure in the community and former Seaview Little League board member, Willard was a married father of three and was very active in coaching local youth sports leagues. Additionally, he spent his career as an NBA referee for 24 seasons.

And 57 was Willard's number in the NBA. The players wore the number while Willard was ill and have maintained wearing the number since his passing. It's a very moving tribute and speaks volumes about the high level of community and class that Seaview demonstrates.

There's something else that this Little League district is doing to further a cause. When another one of the Little League moms, Elizabeth Moreno, visited Honduras with her family, she became aware of a former semi-pro baseball player down there named Dave Elmore.

Elmore, an American who now resides on the small island Roatan just off the coast of Honduras, has been teaching the local kids about baseball for years. He even carved a baseball diamond out of the jungle so that he could put his lessons to work in a real way.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles