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1973 Eastern, European Champs Reconnect for 50th Reunion

In the past week, both the Eastern Champions and European Champions from the 1973 Little League World Series celebrated their 50th reunion. Emotions ran high for both the teams as they returned to Williamsport.

Both teams were able to attend multiple games at the World Series, celebrate at individual banquets and reconnect with the boys they once knew.

Members of the European Champions of 1973 hadn’t been in contact for several years, due to being from military families and moving to multiple locations growing up, as well as in adulthood in the years following the 1973 Little League World Series.

The reunion was the first time many were able to see each other again. Members of the team took a step back into another world when they came back to Williamsport. They said that they were instantly able to recognize one another upon meeting. The team enjoyed exploring Williamsport as they were strictly prohibited from leaving the complex when they were young boys.

The team told the Sun-Gazette that they were even recognized from their Little League World Series by members of the community. The reunion left a lasting impact on each member of the team. The team vowed not to let “time get away” from them again as they now look forward to keeping in touch through Zoom and social media as well as plan for more meet-ups with one another.

“Something that stands out to me from this week is the emotion of it all.” shared Jeff Ralston of Texas. “We began our time in reunion with an informal social. Many of us had only been able to see each other over zoom, so it was special to get to see one another in person because the experience can’t be recreated online. There was a lot of laughter, but also some tears. We were able to have a memorial service in Williamsport for the teammates and members of the team who we had lost, but also remember our fathers. Many of us, except for a few, have lost their fathers so it was nice to remember them and all that they had done for us and in their time in the Air Force. There were many memories made and moments that were had that I couldn’t foresee when planning this reunion a year and a half ago, but it made the time even more special together. We are really glad we were able to come together and remember the time we shared at the Little League World Series.”

Many family members of the Eastern Champions of 1973 described the team as becoming their 12-year-old selves again.

Many emotions were felt by the team members and their families as they remembered the days of their own Little League World Series. Dave Jackson of New York and John Miller of New York shared slide shows at their banquet held at the Genetti in Williamsport containing photos and videos of the team from the start of the 1973 Little League All-Star season to when they played at the Little League World Series. Teammates enjoyed pointing out each other as they still remembered each other’s jersey numbers and positions. The team made a special presentation to coach, Donald Roland, of Florida. The team each signed a baseball, decorative, canvas from Hobby Lobby in their batting order for his 86th birthday on Saturday. Teammates shared appreciation for their coach and all that he had done for them.

“Most people tell me ‘You were so lucky to have played in the Little League World Series.’ and I always respond with ‘We weren’t lucky, we were fortunate.’ We were 15 boys, now men, including myself who worked hard and were dedicated to the game and earned a spot to play in the series.” shared Dave Jackson of New York. “It was an emotional time together as we shared the memory of our Little League World Series, but the weather held up and we were able to enjoy some games and remember the time we had shared together. It was nice to have the opportunity to see the European Champions of 1973 at Lamade Stadium and watch a game with them.”

Both teams valued the importance of looking back and remembering the lasting memories of their time playing in the Little League World Series. Jeff Ralston shared that a member of the Easter Champions of 1973 shared that they were a part of a brotherhood. Each team looks forward to continuing making memories together and never forgetting the ones that have made a life long lasting impact on them.

Source: Sungazette