EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — 75 years ago the Little League World Series began. 25 years ago, a team from Pennsylvania made a magical run to South Williamsport. Fans across the commonwealth came together to cheer on a squad from Pottsville, Schuylkill County. We caught up with a couple members of that team who share memories that will last a lifetime.
August 16th, 1997, a trip to the Little League World Series on the line, and Railway Park Little League of Pottsville was in the spotlight.
We were the first team to ever go to a state tournament out of that area. And for us to run it back and go all the way to the Little League World Series was unbelievable.
“Anthony Mehling and Alex Miranda were two key players on that 1997 Railway Park team. We asked them what it was about their team that made it stand out.
“We had many players that did not play just one position. We had people you could plug in different positions depending on who was pitching, who was on that day, and people stepped up in those positions,” Miranda said.
Led by the late great Irv Schappell, Railway Park smashed their way to the world series, and the City of Pottsville couldn’t get enough of their hometown heroes.
“They were also a big part of the reason why we did so well. They were always cheering us on, whether it was a positive thing or a negative thing. They were rallying right behind us. We just had a core fanbase that just supported us through districts, sectionals, states, and all the way to the LLWS,” Mehling told us.
Before the first game we played Dyer, Indiana, I pitched that game. And just walking from the dorms to the field, and the line of people that we had to walk through that were all of our fans coming from Schuylkill County or wherever they were coming from, just to watch a game. Our community was 100 percent behind us. And it’s definitely a memory I’ll never forget, ” Miranda recalled.
Speaking of that game against Indiana, it was a thriller that ended on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 8th. Railway Park won 1-0.
“I thought it was gonna end in 6 innings and it went to 8, surprised me and we just did the job in the 8th inning,” Miranda said back in 1997.
“Our thing was just get a run and try to win this thing and some great defense and keep the runners from scoring,” a younger version of Mehling said.
Although their run would eventually end, the players’ friendships have not. And earlier this summer the 1997 team was honored in Pottsville, bringing the boys back together, like it was old times.
“I still get messages, I’m sure Anthony does. People continue to say that’s one of the best summers they’ve had in their life. It’s very unique, it’s never been done, will it be done again? Only time can tell, Miranda added.
“We were like the town, little town celebrity there. But it was a great feeling just to achieve what we achieved. I don’t know if it will be achieved again from that area. It was just one of those once in a lifetime things, Mehling said.