It has been more than 40 years since a Lennox Little League team reached such heights. Over the past month, the all-star intermediate team for boys ages 11-13, defeated teams from Nevada, Washington, Montana and Northern California to become California state champions and rank third in the Western United States.
Sadly, the winning streak came to end last month when Arizona knocked the scrappy South Bay team out of the final game, which had they won, would have brought them within one game of playing in the Little League World Series tournament. Nonetheless, the boys’ triumph has brought pride to the entire community and especially, to their committed fans.
“Unfortunately it was one loss and go home,” said coach Roberto Aguirre. “The boys were bummed out but our families and league are so proud of them. This run was amazing.”
Baseball is a popular pastime in Lennox and enjoys a strong following, explained Jerry Flory, head volunteer administrator for the Little League district, and each game drew more than 100 people to cheer them on.
“Tournaments get pretty tough on the kids playing every day,” said Flory. “The game they lost was a tough game. Baseball is the number one sport in Lennox. They had games at 9 a.m. and they would have the biggest crowd of any other team in the tournament. It was a great accomplishment.”
Their wins are all the more remarkable considering that only a year ago, the league was on the verge of shutting down after battling with the Lennox School District over a hike in fees for use of the baseball fields. The dispute was eventually resolved, but fees and costs continue to be an issue for the league.
The champs received much support during the championship season, with the local market Northgate Gonzalez donating food and gas money for the team. In addition, Aloha Limousines, another local business, donated the van that took the team from county to county in their quest to win the title.
“It was really awesome that they stepped up to the plate,” said Aguirre.
And so, it is on to next year. And while Aguirre says many of his players may have few financial resources, they have a lot of heart.
“A lot of the publicity that comes out of Lennox is not always good,” said Aguirre. “This is a happy story.”