The Cal Ripken World Series has been a highlight of summertime in Harford County for a dozen years. People in the community step up and provide housing for players, some of whom travel from as far away as is possible to get and still be on earth.
As a result of this tradition, there always are some local people cheering extra hard for whatever teams are playing. It's a wonderful expression of hope for the future insofar as it brings people from many cultures together to share good times and good sports.
Still, as is the case with any competition, a level of national, regional and local pride is on the line in every game. The people who have players from Korea or New Zealand in their homes certainly cheer for those teams, but it would hard to imagine them not also cheering for the more local players.
Until this year, the most local of teams to participate, the one from Harford County, has been little more than an afterthought, generally being ousted early in the tournament and never really in the competition.
This year, however, was an exception: The Harford County team, the Hickory Hornets, did the local community proud by winning enough games to advance to the U.S. championship game. Though they ended up falling short, the game was close, and the team they lost to from West Raleigh, N.C., went on to capture the tournament's world championship the following day.
Having a Harford County team play each year is something that has been considered for elimination in years past, but this year's Hornets team demonstrated there's good reason to include a local squad in the competition.
Sure, the Cal Ripken World Series would be a community event either way, thanks in large part to the host family tradition. Still, it's nice for folks in Harford County to have a few youth athletes living closer to home who they can cheer for, be it for a single game, or into a championship round.