Merle West, left, and D.A. West cheer for their grandson, Jake, who plays centerfield for Victoria Southwest. Their granddaughter, Kendall, 4, at bottom, takes a more relaxed approach to fandom.
Photo by Todd Krainin.
IT'S STILL GAME TIME
Additional games (at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex)
• Wednesday starting at 7 p.m.
• Thursday starting at 7 p.m.
• Saturday starting at 7 p.m.
• Sunday starting at 7 p.m.
Teams come together to practice through blood, sweat and tears. Families - made up of parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles - pack the stands.
It is all for the Little League All-Star Tournament, where only the best can compete. And only the very best will win.
Jake West, 10, plays for Victoria Southwest. Tuesday night, he had his parents, sister and grandparents at the game.
"I've been an assistant coach every year for five years," Mark West, Jake's dad, said. "We are at every single practice. Everyone in the family goes to games - our daughter, who is 4, Jake's grandparents - they have been to every game."
And West, having been a coach, believes this behavior is not special from his family. It is "typical" for most of the team.
"The support for each other, it enhances family unity," West said.
The sport is about family, especially to Ryan Weise, of Goliad, who is reminded of his father every time he watches his son, Dylan, play.
"I am proud because my father was a pitcher," Weise said. "I never played, but to watch him play brings back memories of watching my dad play."
Cheering for his son, waving a star-shaped poster with a picture of Dylan on it, Weise said the All-Stars game is exciting to watch.
"It is important because it is the best of the best out on the field," Weise said. "They are out there representing the town that we go to school in."
The families aren't the only people who get excited about the tournament, however.
Gloria Bates, general manager at Dairy Queen on Port Lavaca Drive, is planning to keep the restaurant open later so the kids can still eat after late games.
"My owner plays baseball, my kids played baseball, my grandkids play baseball. We just love baseball," Bates said. "We wanted to participate, and if we have to stay up later to do that, we will do that."
Having worked at the Dairy Queen on Port Lavaca Drive for 11 years, Bates said business always picks up during the tournament. She even plans to pass out special coupons to the players.
But Little League is about more than family and competition.
Christy Janssen, mother of Molly, 10, from Ganado, believes the tournament teaches the children good lessons.
"I think for them it is important because they are chosen to play. I think it does a lot for their self esteem," Janssen said.
The best moment of the season, Janssen said, was when Molly hit a home run.
"The way that she got it was she hit the ball, which was a single, and she went to steal on second and they over threw ... and she just came on home," Janssen said. "She was the last batter of the night, so it was good."