By: Luke Ramirez
Many traditions are born in baseball and tend to die hard once they become part of the game. For one international team in this year’s Little League® Baseball World Series, they are simply carrying on a recurring custom over the last several years.
Reynosa, Mexico is approximately 1,950 miles away from Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa. That is certainly flying range for most people who are looking to take a trip of that distance, but for about 70 family members from Guadalupe Trevino Kelly Little League, they prefer a bus ride.
“It took 36 hours to make it to Pennsylvania,” said Jorge Garcia Perez, father of pitcher Jorge Garcia, through a translator. “We only stopped three times to eat along the way and did our sleeping on the bus.”
As crazy as spending nearly two days on a bus sounds, it is nothing that unexpected for a team traveling from Mexico.
“It always makes me happy to see the families travel so far by bus, but I am pretty used to the idea now after all the years of Mexican families doing that,” team coach Raymundo Berrones said through a translator.
Mr. Berrones coached the Guadalupe Trevino Kelly Little League team who made it to Williamsport in 2009, and remembers about the same number of family members who took the same bus ride.
Many of the players on this year’s Mexico team were old enough to remember the 2009 team from Reynosa who made it to the International Championship game, but fell short to Chinese Taipei.
“The boys started this dream eight years ago when they were playing together at four years old,” said Mr. Garcia. “After watching [the 2009 team] it became their goal to get here.”
After eight years of hard work and preparation put in by the parents, coaches, and players, they accomplished that dream; making a 36-hour bus ride seem meager to the traveling family.
“In the end, everything we have done is worth it,” Mr. Garcia said. “All of the training for the kids and the planning is behind us, and we couldn’t be happier to be here.”
As for the players, having a strong contingent of supporters is crucial for an international team competing in Williamsport.
“I am very happy to see them here supporting me and my teammates,” said Diego Diaz. “ During the opening ceremony on Thursday, the Mexican fans roared throughout Volunteer Stadium when team Mexico was announced. Those buses brought with them more than eager parents, but the support of an entire nation.