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Uncles get early wake-up call when Nationals arrive


Volunteers are assigned to each World Series team to ensure its stay runs smoothly

WILLIAMSPORT — Dick Reitz set his alarm for 3 a.m. Monday morning, pulling himself out of his slumber not for a fishing trip or to tend to a newborn baby. No, this was the day that his team arrived in town, and he was going to be on hand to greet them as the filed off the bus.

When teams come to the World Series each is given a pair of “uncles” who serve behind the scenes managing the team’s schedule for the week between practice times, side trips and meals. But up front, these uncles are also some of the team’s biggest fans always quick with an encouraging word to keep heads high.

“You’re kind of a father, a mom, everything,” Reitz says. “We make sure they get to all of the events and basically, whatever they need we make it happen.”

Gresham’s uncles are 29-year veteran Reitz, a retired police office, and Willie Weber who serves as the Chief County Detective in the area.

Needless to say security breeches are a long shot with a pair of lawmen close at hand.

“It’s 60 to 70 hours of work during the Series, but it’s a lot of fun doing this,” Weber said. “I always saw the joy my father got out of doing this, and that got me involved. We develop friendships with people from around the country — I still get texts from coaches in Montana and all over.”

While working as a police officer, Reitz directed traffic on game nights back in the late 1960s before starting his volunteer work with the Series upon retiring from the force.

“All my buddies were like ‘you’ve spent all this time down here anyway, so why not volunteer?’” Reitz said.

He has seen several former players end up going pro over the years, most notably Jason Varitek who was on his team in 1984 — the first year he served.

Uncles are assigned teams randomly by choosing baseballs out of a bucket. Weber has had the golden touch choosing teams that ended up reaching the U.S. semifinals the past three years.