The shot from Williamsport


BOBBY THOMSON has nothing on Michael Memea's dream moment. After his team rallied from a three-run deficit, the 12-year-old catcher from Ewa Beach hit a game-winning home run to defeat Curacao, 7-6, and win the Little League World Series on Sunday. It was the first extra-innings Little League World Series game in 34 years and left sportswriters on Oahu wondering if Michael's Kilauean smoking of a full-count pitch wasn't the biggest blast in Hawaii history.

We know, we know. Holding a world championship for 11- and 12-year-olds -- and broadcasting it internationally -- sounds like a formula for disaster, an abuse of vulnerable pre-teens whose recreation shouldn't be taken so seriously. But those who tuned in for the title game would have been hard-pressed to find any overbearing parents or outrageous behavior. The kids played hard, and skillfully, but they did so with joy and exuberance, reminding us that baseball is meant to be, above all else, fun.

This has been a tough summer for baseball in Charm City. Not just because the flailing Orioles have turned a once-promising season into just another also-ran year, but because the Major League Baseball steroid scandal weighs so heavily here. Rafael Palmeiro's silence on the topic is painful. Even an admission of guilt would be easier to swallow than what Sun columnist Peter Schmuck calls Raffy's maddening "I-wish-I-could-tell-you defense."

But the Little Leaguers are another matter. What a thrill to watch a talented team (yes, even from a Pacific island already blessed by perfect weather and world-class beaches) triumph against the odds. This was Hawaii's -- and Michael Memea's -- moment in the sun.

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