Chandler little leaguers generate excitement - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Chandler little leaguers generate excitement

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Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2003 12:13 am | Updated: 1:45 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Chandler little leaguers — aka baseball’s latest national television stars — are already getting calls from the girls.

That's just the tip of the frenzy.

Jubilation has followed the Chandler National Little League team’s 2-0 win Tuesday over Vineyard (Calif.) Little League in San Bernardino, Calif. The team is in Williamsport, Pa., for Saturday's Little League World Series, rocketing Chandler into the national spotlight.

"I just got done doing a TV interview," said Doug Bernard, vice president of the Chandler National Little League team.

"A lot of the parents have been doing interviews, and the phone is ringing off of the hook."

At least a couple of little girls have called for his son, Cory, who pitched Tuesday night’s game, Bernard said. One said she saw him on television — and she thought he was “hot.”

"It has been amazing how many people are on the bandwagon immediately. I'm hearing a lot of excitement for the kids,” Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn said. “It's similar to what the state of Arizona experienced when the Diamondbacks won the World Series, but on a more localized level. They have their World Series, and now we have ours.”

The Arizona Diamondbacks sent a bat signed by the team to the young ballplayers in Williamsport as a good luck charm, Bernard said. The Chandler Fire Department also sent hats and pins to the team to express its excitement.

One of the more interesting calls came from the parents of former Chandler little leaguer and NFL player Adam Archuleta of the St. Louis Rams, Bernard said. Archuleta had his parents call to congratulate the team and offer the team whatever it needed.

Many Chandler fans, including City Councilman Dean Anderson, attended Tuesday's game and were drastically outnumbered in the crowd of 10,000.

“Feeling the excitement of the families that were there was incredible,” Anderson said. “It was like a David and Goliath audience, so to speak, so I guess we slew the giant. It was pretty exciting."

Tuesday's game garnered a 0.83 rating on ESPN2, which means about 700,000 homes nationally tuned in. ESPN said the six regional finals on ESPN2 this year averaged about 0.8, so Tuesday night's game was rated a little better than average.

Chandler Regional Hospital president Dave Covert said there's a special interest in the team at the hospital because assistant coach Mark Kem is a longtime employee.

"It's nice, too, being a part of the community here as Chandler was splashed all over the TV last night,'' Covert said. "It was the talk of the hospital this morning. We're going to have to see if we can get some of the team T-shirts so the employees can wear them on game days."

Chandler plans a celebration to honor how far the team has gone, regardless of how it performs in Williamsport.

"We have no idea how far they will go in Williamsport, but they will be given a hero's welcome when they come home," Anderson said.

Barro's Pizza on the corner of Alma School and Germann roads acted as the unofficial team headquarters on Tuesday night with fans, Little League board members, the mayor and others watching the game from the pizzeria.

For Saturday’s 4 p.m. game, the place is getting a bit more posh. A big-screen television, a misting system so fans can watch outside, and cupcakes for the little ones have been donated, Bernard said.

Barro's manager Paul Spencer said there will be games along with specials in the team's honor.

Bernard said 350,000 people are expected to attend the Little League World Series in Williamsport over the next two weeks.

"It's been a good feeling," said Keith Benjamin, whose son and nephew both play on the team. "Every 12-year-old kid dreams of going to Williamsport, and they made the dream a reality."

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