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Philadelphia pitcher Mo'ne Davis delivers in the first inning of a United States semi-final baseball game against Las Vegas at the Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Las Vegas won 8-1, with Mo'ne giving up three runs in 2 and 2/3 innings. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

And a girl shall lead them ...

Trailblazing Little Leaguer offers big-league hope

Every year as the TinCaps' season starts to wind down, I find myself watching the Little League World Series. There's just something about watching these young kids play that takes me back to my youth. I think of the hours spent on the sandlot – where life's lessons were learned and life skills were formed. Like many young kids, I grew up playing Little League. I always dreamed of playing in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. We never got close, but that never stopped us from dreaming. Now that I help coach my son, Carson, on a travel league team, it's fun to watch the games with him. Sometimes ours daughter watches the games and sometimes she doesn't.

This year, the tournament was different – and better – than I ever remember. A couple of weeks ago we heard about a phenom pitcher. It seems like every year there are one or two of these shining stars. Someone an announcer describes as a “man amongst boys.” I've done it as a coach – a kid who is better than others in the age group or league. You say, he's a man amongst boys. It might be a young man who throws 70+ mph. It could be a young man with a major league curveball at 12 years old. Sometimes it's a young man who looks 16 years old. This year was different because the he was a she.

Mo'Ne Davis. I remember the first time I heard her name. I thought to myself, wow, that's really cool a girl is in the Little League World Series. I knew she had to be very good or she wouldn't have been on the team. What I didn't know at first was that she was as good, or better. than everyone else in the tournament. It couldn't have come at a better time for Little League and Major League Baseball. Let's face it, baseball isn't cool to some younger folks. I hear that it's slow. I hear that the better athletes play football and basketball. In fact, last year's World Series featured one black player.

Of course, there has never been a woman play in the major leagues.

Then, out of nowhere, we meet Mo'Ne Davis.

Everywhere I went for two weeks, I was asked by folks, what do you think of Mo'Ne Davis? Do you like it? Should she be “allowed” to play with the boys?

I loved every minute of it! She took us on a two-week ride of how dreams are made. Of underdogs who rise up against tremendous odds.

She threw a shutout against one of the best teams in the entire country. She carried herself like a major league player in interviews.

She gave young girls – like our 10- year-old daughter Katelynn – a chance to dream all the dreams we did: that a girl can compete at that level … and win.

In the end, her team didn't win the 2014 Little League World Series. Neither did that great group of young men from Chicago. In the end, they were both winners. In time, folks will forget who won the 2014 Little League World Series, but they won't forget Mo'Ne Davis. Maybe she will become the first woman to pitch for the TinCaps. Maybe she will win a national championship for UConn Basketball, or maybe she will become president of a great company. Whatever her future holds, I'm grateful for the two weeks we got to see her play and win with the boys.

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