That’s what three teams of 12U players from Spokane brought home with them after playing in the 2019 American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitation Tournaments this summer at Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York.
“Most of the kids won’t remember the results of the games,” said Tom Krotzer, head coach of the Cubs. “Oh, they may remember a home run or a well-pitched game, but it’s the other things, the pin trading, meeting kids from around the country, those are the things they’ll remember.”
There were wins – 13 of them total in 22 games; each team won at least one – but each of the three teams had something special to remember.
For the Cubs, who found themselves in perhaps the toughest pool the week they were there, July 12-19, and won just one of seven games, it was an act of sportsmanship in their third game against the St. Louis, Missouri, Dynamite they’ll remember.
“One of their kids had a badly broken leg. He couldn’t run; he couldn’t play,” related Krotzer. “Their coach asked if we would let him bat once so that he could play. You weren’t supposed to do things like that, but these are 12-year-old kids for crying out loud. He hit the ball and we got him out, but he got to play.
“One of their dads posted on the Cooperstown Facebook page what a great act of sportsmanship that was by the Cubs.”
Tommy Krotzer, coming off a shoulder injury, threw 101 pitches with seven strike outs and only two walks in a complete-game 9-2 victory over the Indiana Twins for the Cubs’ win. Krotzer was one of four Cubs who batted over .500, along with Ryan Busch, Tyler Yarger and Caleb Jimerson. Yager (with two), Busch, Jimerson and Chase Hendren hit home runs.
The Musketeers, who, like the Cubs, play in the Spokane Indians Youth Baseball program, came away with a 5-2 record that included five straight wins in pool play that helped get them seeded 20th out of 104 teams into bracket play the week of Aug. 16-22.
Their most vivid memory, however, will be an act of kindness they displayed to right a wrong.
“Pin trading is huge at the tournament with the teams bringing special pins to trade,” said Jennifer Florence, the wife of Musketeers head coach Branden Florence.
She said Musketeers players “heard about a boy, from West Seneca, New York, who had his whole pin collection stolen. The boys banded together and got a bunch of their own pins and some from other teams” and were able to present the unlucky youngster with more than 50 pins.
She said coaches of the teams got the players together to meet, and when West Seneca played its next game, the Musketeers were there to cheer them on.
“They hadn’t won a game,” noted Florence, “but with our boys there, they won their first game, and the boy who had his pin collection stolen, hit a double. He said it was so cool having (other) kids cheer them on. And they came to our next game to cheer us on. The kids became friends.
“Something good came out of his pins being stolen,” she added.
The Musketeers, who battled a stomach illness that impacted their play late in the tournament, hit nine home runs, including two each by Cooper Jeffries (one a grand slam) and Jackson Mott. Jack Florence, Brandon Spunich, David Madsen, Jeremiah Kirkwood and Braydon Oliver hit one each.
Memories for the Americans Red, who play a travel schedule during the summer, will include “the opportunity to meet kids from around the country” and soak in what assistant coach Brian Burton called “a pretty cool experience” that is the Cooperstown tournament week.
Americans Red had the most success of the locals, winning their first seven games this week to gain the No. 11 seed and start bracket play in the fifth round. They won their first game to advance to the Round of 16 before losing and wound up tied for ninth in the 104-team tournament with a 7-1 record.
Nine of the 10 players hit home runs, a team total of 26 in all, prompting a player from Andover, Maryland, to nickname them “Murderer’s Row” from New York Yankees lore, noted Burton. Logan Spradling, who hit 23 of 27 in eight games for an .851 average, hit seven home runs and Briggs Beaudoin hit six. “It was a good trip for us,” said Burton.
Spokane Americans Red (43-14 season record): Kai Wheeler (Chase), Adam Sodorff (Chase) Jakob Williams (Sacajawea), Beaudoin (All Saints), Harper Dissmore (Chase), Spradling (home school), Grant Yost (All Saints), Mikey Funaro (All Saints), Kyle Wilkenson (Sacajawea), Grayson Burton (Westwood). Coaches: Mark Sodorff, Burton.
Spokane Cubs (20-26): Tommy Krotzer (Salk), Tyler Yarger (Salk), Chase Hendren (Salk), Evan Lafferty (Salk), Ridge Bryant (Salk), Quinn Moses (Salk), Reece Chimienti (Mountainside), Ryan Busch (Mountainside), Kian Carruthers (St. Thomas More), Caden Hansen (Northwood), Jackson Ables (Garry), Caleb Jimerson (River City, Post Falls). Coaches: Krotzer, Sam Chimienti, Kevin Busch, Tom Hendren, Marshal Jimerson.
Spokane Musketeers (42-19): Nash McLean (Freeman), Cooper Jeffries (Sacajawea), Vance Coyner (Freeman), Brayden Oliver (Northwood), Jackson Mott (Moran Prairie), Roan Reilly (Lakeland Junior High, Rathdrum), Jack Delmese (Horizon), Jack Florence (Freeman), Brayden Martin (Westwood), David Madsen (Evergreen), Brandon Spunich (Centennial), Jeremiah Kirkwood (Sadie Halstead, Newport). Coaches: Florence, RJ Delmese, John Madsen.
Spokane Stars Blue went 5-0 and won their pool to lead the showing by a half-dozen Spokane-based girls teams at the EOT Summer Swoosh Showcase July 23-26 in Orange County, California.
In the top division for 17U/16U teams, Stars Blue outscored their opponents by 106 points.
Also in 17U/16U Division 1, Spokane Legacy Red were 3-2 and finished third in their pool and Spokane Titans 17U were 2-4 and finished fourth. In Division 2 (16U/15U), Stars Red were 4-1 and Stars Navy 3-2, both second in their pools. In Division 3 (15U/14U), Stars Purple were 1-4 for fifth.
Stars Blue players: Hailey Marlow (West Valley), Emma Main (Mt. Spokane), Olivia Mayer (Gonzaga Prep), Brooke Jessen (Timberlake), Lakin Gardner (G-Prep), Chloe Williams (Central Valley), Gracey Neal (Mt. Spokane), Jacksen McCliment-Call (University), Tyler McCliment-Call (U-Hi) Anika Chalich (CV) and MJ Bruno (CV). Coaches: Ron Adams, Steve Ranniger.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.