Team is first from Taylor in 30 years
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – The city’s first Little League baseball team in 30 years to qualify for the Junior League World Series will host the annual competition Aug. 11 to 18 at Heritage Park.
The 1987 and 1989 Taylor teams which qualified in the past were state champs. Last year, a format change allowed a team from Michigan’s District 5 to qualify to host the competition, with Brownstown Township sending last year’s inaugural host team.
The opening ceremony is at 8 p.m. Aug. 10, at Heritage Park, southeast of Pardee and Northline roads, followed by fireworks at dusk.
The team opens the tournament at 11 a.m. Aug. 11, playing the U.S. Southwest region team.
The championship game for the Junior Little League World Series begins at noon Aug. 18, and is tentatively scheduled to air on ESPN 2.
The Taylor Combined Little League team, comprised of 13- to 14-year-old boys, was recognized at the Aug. 6 City Council meeting, with a proclamation read by Councilwoman Angie Winton and well-wishes expressed by Mayor Rick Sollars.
“I watched you win against Melvindale,” Winton said. “It was very exciting.”
She said the city wishes them the best of luck in the upcoming tournament.
“Let’s go Taylor!” Winton said, followed by enthusiastic applause.
The team was formed from players and coaches from the Taylor Northeast, Northwest and North Central Little Leagues. They defeated the Melvindale All-Stars in the district championship game.
Sollars said the team has the entire community supporting and cheering for them as they enter the tournament.
“Enjoy the moment,” Sollars said at the council meeting. “We were able to get you guys on the cover of Taylor Today (magazine), so we are going to give you guys a printed version of the cover, and these will hit 20,000 doors next week.”
The team is managed by Rick Thorning, and coached by Jerry Footlander, Chris Cannon and Tim Mucha.
The team roster includes: Blake Boike, Christopher Cannon, Connor Felice, Jordan Footlander, Calbin “Papi” Gonzalez, David Holmes, Charlie Kurkowski, Cole Loftis, Cole Mucha, David Roberts, Aidan Steele, Drew Thorning, Dalton Vance and Lucas Zelek.
Little League baseball, founded in 1939 for ages 9 to 12, is played around the world. In 1961, Little League was expanded to include 13- to 15-year-old players, which was called Senior League. In 1979, a Junior League was formed for 13-year-olds, and in 1991 was expanded to include 14-year-olds. In 2013, the Intermediate Division was formed for ages 11 to 13, to serve as a transitional program.
For more information about the JLBWS, go to littleleague.org/world-series/2019/jlbws.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])