By: Luke Ramirez
It has been eight years since at team of 12 Park View Little Leaguers from Chula Vista, Calif., capped an amazing and historic summer by bringing home a Little League® Baseball World Series championship. The friends and teammates who captured the 2009 LLBWS title have since grown up and even put their baseball careers behind them to pursue other interests.
My name is Luke Ramirez, a pitcher and first baseman on that team and I am now currently a journalism student at California State University-Long Beach. I am enjoying the unique opportunity to return to the place of one of my life’s greatest achievements as part of a summer internship with LLBWS.org, Little League’s World Series website. I have reconnected with a few of my teammates to share their stories since they became world champions.
Daniel played at Olympian High School where he won a San Diego Section California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championship with the varsity baseball team in his senior year. After graduation, he joined the Marine reserves and works as an entry level electrician. Daniel’s long-term goals are to be a policeman and he will be taking his academy entrance exam at the end of August.
Q: What is your favorite moment of the summer of 2009?
A: “My fondest memory of the experience was the walk-off win in the U.S. semifinal game (11-10 win over Southeast Region Champions Warner Robins, Ga, American Little League). It was probably the toughest game I have ever been a part of and when we won the feeling was great.”
Q: What does it mean to you to be a world champion?
A: “Being a Little League world champion means a lot. Not many people can say they have won that so it’s very special to me.”
Markus went on to play baseball at Otay Ranch High School and then to Benedictine University, reuniting with former teammate Oscar Castro. Markus has aspirations of being a California Highway Patrolman, and eventually a Drug Enforcement Agent. He is currently working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice.
Q: What was the best part about winning the Little League Baseball World Series?
A: “Being a world champion created a lot of great opportunities down the road, but the best thing about it was being able to bring a championship to San Diego. Even to this day, after many years, I get recognized for being a part of that team … That’s really cool.”
Q: What emotions do you feel when watching the Little League International tournament on television?
A: “Tuning into the LLWS each year after winning is a crazy feeling. Even just seeing the field that changed our lives back in 2009 is incredible, and so many memories rush back. I plan on watching every year for a long time.”
Kiko was an outstanding scholastic pitcher at St. Augustine High School in San Diego and received a scholarship to pitch at Pepperdine University. He is entering his senior season as a top pitching prospect, and has high hopes that he will be among those selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a Little League Baseball world champion?
A: “It is a nice reminder of that amazing summer of baseball. Trying to be a champion has translated into my everyday life with school and work now.”
Q: What other goals do you have besides baseball?
A: “I hope that baseball works out and I’m selected in the MLB draft next summer after my senior season. If not, I’m going to finish my MBA and try to work in finance.”
Oscar went on to play baseball scholastically for the Rock Academy where he played varsity for four years. He then attended Benedictine University in Illinois to play baseball and begin his higher education. He is now a student at Arizona’s Grand Canyon University, where he studies business and also works his summers as a member of the San Diego Padres’ grounds crew.
Q: What does it mean to you to have won the Little League Baseball World Series?
A: “Winning the entire tournament was such a remarkable experience especially on one of the grandest stages in youth sports.”
Q: How do you feel when you watch the Little League baseball World Series on television?
A: “I remember what I felt during our World Series run and wonder if the kids we all watch every year are going through the same thing. It’s also cool to know that the winners and I will always share something in common, and know that no one can ever take away that accomplishment from them.”
As for my goals, I want to stay around the game I love, and aspire to one day be a beat writer for a Major League Baseball team. I return back to Williamsport this season where my team and I not only became the best in the world, but also where my dream of becoming a sports journalist was conceived.
Not everyone you see participate in the Little League Baseball World Series will make it to “The Show,” but each player lucky enough to make it to Williamsport goes home at the end with an incomparable experience that is so personal that it is likely to influence the rest of their lives.