‘Our team was the best’: Valley community weighs in on World Series win
Published 3:57 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019
VALLEY — People from one end of the Valley to the other were in a feeling-good-all-over mood Thursday following Wednesday’s Dixie Youth World Series championship by Valley’s 9 & 10-year-old boys baseball team.
“Let’s hear it for those boys,” said West Point Rotary Club President Debbie Kelley at Thursday’s meeting. “We are so proud of them. No matter where you are from in the Greater Valley Area or Chambers County this is a great thing. We need to have some kind of big welcoming event for them.”
A World Series championship by a Valley team was a nice birthday present for John Tidwell, who celebrated his 91st birthday on Thursday.
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“What they did was fantastic,” he said. “When I was coming along playing for the youth teams in Fairfax, we came close to winning state championships but nothing like this. Those of us who are left who came through that golden age of baseball in the Valley are feeling really good today.”
Tidwell, who today lives in West Point, said that baseball opened many doors for him. As a player and as a scout, he was in pro baseball for ten years, mostly in the Dodger organization. He still bleeds Dodger blue.
“I can tell you from experience that what these boys have gone through this summer will stay with them for the rest of their life. It will mean more to you as you grow older. People here in the Valley will tell you how proud they are of you for what you did in the summer of 2019.”
Roger McDonald, who was in community recreation in Valley for 52 years, said that he’s really proud of what this team did this year.
“I very well remember some of these boys’ parents,” he said. “They were good athletes, too. I’m sure it’s being passed down in the family. It’s a great thing what the 9 and 10-year-old team did this year. We’ve had a lot of good teams over the years, but we’ve never had one to do something like this.”
Brody Thomas, the athletic coordinator for Valley Parks & Recreation youth teams, said that he and others who had been following this year’s 9 and 10-year-old group, felt they could accomplish good things.
“You could tell there was something really good about them,” he said. “They had come up through the recreation program together and had been playing together for a while. They’d also played travel ball together.”
He credited Coach Shane Andrews for maximizing their potential.
“At this age, it’s so easy to get discouraged,” he said. “When a player would make a mistake, his teammates would pick up him, and he wouldn’t dwell on striking out or making an error in the field. There is such good chemistry between these guys.”
Thomas said there’s been talk among recreation officials about some kind of special event to celebrated winning a Dixie Youth World Series.
“It’s been such a whirlwind,” he said, “but I’m sure we’ll be doing something special.”
Thomas said it was amazing the way people got behind the team online.
“We had three phones going all the time,” he said. “We had to constantly check them to see if they were working properly. We had over 640 people watching us. One group was watching from under a tent on the beach in Florida. It was incredible. We had great community support, and we really appreciate that.”
There’s one trophy awarded at the end of Dixie Youth play, and this year it went to Valley’s 9 & 10-year-old All Stars.
“When you start Dixie Youth play there are more than 800 teams in 11 states who have a chance to win that trophy,” Thomas said. “Out of all those teams, our team was the best.”