The uniforms, caps, gloves, chatter between players and coaches and rooting from the dugouts was the same, even if the language spoken and on the uniforms was different. But, the love of the game was on display as International Little League Baseball came to Santa Clara over the weekend of July 12.
Briarwood El Camino Little League (BELL) District 44 hosted the Dong Yuan little league team from Hsinchu City, Taiwan. The Taiwanese team had been seeking a league to host them as they visited and toured the United States. “BELL was the only little league that found this fascinating and saw this as an opportunity for our children to play ball with children half way around the world in their city,” explained Leticia Dominguez, the Sponsorship/Donation Manager for BELL.
“BELL has always worked hard just to keep our league afloat for on-going future planning. And this set the tone to how blessed we truly are to have our kids experience this once in a lifetime ‘Friendship Through Baseball Tournament,'” Dominguez continued. “The last time we played Taiwan was in the Little League World Series back in 1969 – nearly 45 years ago. This time around it wasn’t a World Series event, but rather an event where we hosted a team of kids that just wanted to play ball.”
The weekend tournament featured five teams from Briarwood and Homestead Little Leagues, who hosted the event, as well as teams from Campbell, Los Altos, and Mountain View Little Leagues.
“The team visiting included 13 graduates [nine 12-year old and four 11-year old],” said Taiwanese coach Chiang Chi An. “Based on the Little League Baseball rules, they are all star caliber. The leagues in Hsinchu City regularly have tournaments with Japanese teams.
“In general, two or three teams from Osaka will visit us in March, and one from Chiba [near Tokyo] in July,” he continued. “Usually our teams will visit them in August in return. This is the first time our team has visited the United States, so all of the kids are very excited to be participating in this tournament. This team won the title in 2007 in Chiba.”
The two fields hosted a friendly competition that included a Championship Game between Briarwood and the visitors. The Taiwanese team won the Championship game, but everyone who participated felt like a winner as the players traded autographed baseballs and other treats after the game.
“Briarwood Little League was honored to have hosted such a wonderful group of kids and their families to a weekend experience which was not only fantastic, but probably one of the most memorable for years to come,” Dominguez said. “We want to thank all of those baseball lovers and supporters including the Taiwan sponsors and friends who made this a weekend totally worth talking about, and sharing with our overall community.”