Murrayhill kids made their mark

by: JAIME VALDEZ, CHAMPIONSHIP GAME — Sam Albert scores Murrayhill's first run past Georgia catcher Cody Walker in Saturday's U.S. championship game.


History is written by winners, by champions, by victors.

History is about breaking new ground, going new places and scaling new heights.

This summer, the Murrayhill Little League Majors all-star team made history, wrote new chapters in Oregon sports annals that aren't likely to be revised any time soon, and set itself apart as a team that very well may be talked about for decades to come.

They became the first Beaverton team to win the Northwest Regional Tournament. They became the first Oregon team in 48 years to qualify for the Little League World Series. They became the first Oregon team to win a game (and then win two more) at the World Series. They became the first Oregon team to appear in a semifinal game and the first to reach the U.S. championship game.

And all that stuff is really, really exciting.

But the cool thing about this group of 12 young men is that they aren't really 'young men' at all.

Not yet anyway.

The cool thing about Murrayhill's players is that, despite their prodigious talents on the baseball field, despite all their comeback heroics, despite all their clutch-play theatrics and game-face seriousness, this team was first and foremost a group of regular old 12 and 13-year-old kids.

Like most 12 and 13-year-old boys, Murrayhill's most famous kids have their own sports heroes, their own musical favorites and their No. 1 video games. Like most boys their age, they love to play around with their friends, watch TV and movies, eat pizza and talk to (or talk about) girls.

Like most boys their age, they're gearing up for - and in some cases dreading - the onset of the new school year. And like a lot of their peers, they're getting ready for the next season - not the next baseball season, but the next season of competition, many of them preparing for youth football and soccer before they even hit the ground back in Portland late Monday night.

But in some ways, the 12 days spanning Aug. 17 (when the team first touched down in Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series) to Aug. 28 (the day the team landed back in Portland) have worked as hard as possible at telling the world that these aren't just normal kids.

You have to admit there's nothing normal about playing your Little League baseball on national and international television. There's not much normal either about 12 and 13-year-old boys getting interviewed by Orel Hershiser and Brent Musburger, or doing daily TV spots for ESPN and ABC.

There's not much in the way of normal about these kids getting asked for autographs every day by other kids their own age, and sometimes by grown-ups. Not normal too is getting a pre-game pep talk before your Little League game from Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, or catching the honorary first pitch at your Little League game from Hall of Famer Lou Brock.

Also in the not normal category, getting hundreds of emails of congratulations, admiration, advice and adoration from fans across the country and world, most of who have never met and will never meet a single kid on the Murrayhill team.

But the great thing about these kids is that they did such a great job at remaining just kids.

When their games were over, they raced back to The Grove (the players and coaches-only living quarters at the Little League International Complex) to eat, or to go swimming, or as was often the case with the Murrayhill team, for pillow fights in their dorms.

So remember - no matter how many times you see these kids on TV, no matter how many times you read their names in the paper, no matter how often someone else tells you something to the contrary, these kids are just kids, kids who like to have fun and who just happened to be really, really good at playing baseball.

And that's a good thing.