The hundreds of young athletes comprising the 16 teams in this year's Cal Ripken World Series were honored Saturday morning with a parade through downtown Aberdeen.
Starting at 11 a.m. on West Bel Air Avenue, the ballplayers, their coaches, batboys and team ambassadors marched behind team banners for four blocks in front of a large group of local supporters, ending the parade in Aberdeen's Festival Park.
The teams and their families, along with the families hosting players who traveled from overseas to take part in the tournament, were treated to a celebration at Festival Park following the conclusion of the parade. Attending the festivities were soldiers from the Army Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, who brought with them two large military vehicles. A sound system blasting dance tunes was set up in the park's pavilion, and free hot dogs were available to all comers.
As the Ripken World Series was set to start its second day of play, team members and their families began to disperse from the park around 12:30 p.m.
Leaving the park with their parents were two members of the Harford County championship team from Forest Hill, which had played in the tournament's first game the previous evening, losing, 9-1, to the Middle Atlantic team from Brooklyn, N.Y. Two Forest Hill players, Logan Barnes and Andrew Lechner, talked about their experiences so far, and what they hoped to see at the rest of the tournament.
"This parade was a lot of fun, with everyone cheering for us," Logan Barnes said. "The team we played last night was really, really good, but we want to have some better games coming up. Playing at [Cal Sr.'s Yard], is great, with the crowd and the lights on."
"Everything has been really fun," Lechner said. "We've got four games left, and we want to play hard in them."
Lechner and Barnes, along with most of their teammates on the Harford County squad, fraternized with opposition from across the globe the previous evening, dining at Buontempo Brothers Italian Restaurant in downtown Bel Air with members of the Korean team. The group was not hindered by their language barrier.
"They were funny," Lechner said. "One of them spoke English pretty good, so he was translating for us. It didn't matter though."