SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Day two of the Little League World Series is underway in South Williamsport.
Teams from all over the world are in central Pennsylvania for the next nine days.
The 16 teams playing in the Little League World Series may be the stars but they have a lot of help behind the scenes. Each team is assigned two “uncles”. The uncles are their hosts throughout the Little League World Series, and help the players and coaches however they are needed.
Gary Weaver is a pastor in Bloomsburg but for two weeks every year, he has another job. Weaver is one of 32 “uncles” at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport.
“The fact that you are part of someone’s dream, for 11 and 12 year olds, and their families, this is the dream for Little League baseball. So to be part of someone’s dream is really special,” Weaver said.
Each of the 16 teams at the Little League World Series is assigned two uncles who are with the teams the entire time and help with whatever they need.
“They have a lot of other obligations while they’re here with the press, uniforms, this and that. We kind of get them through all that stuff until they get on the field and do what they really enjoy and came here for,” explained Lee Miller, an uncle for the Latin American team.
For some of the uncles with international teams, communicating with the players can be tricky at times when the players don’t speak English.
“We horse around with the kids. We have a lot of fun with them. If it’s just something like that, we can communicate. If it’s something serious, we can grab the interpreter to make sure their needs are taken care of,” said Joe Girio, another Latin American uncle.
“They’ve been helpful with washing our clothes, watching us, the times we need to get back to the ballpark,” explained Radameth Deleon from Latin America.
“Lee and I really do feel like when they leave, that we have nephews and nieces all over the world and we stay in contact with a lot of them, too,” said Girio.
Most of the uncles at the Little League World Series have been doing this for more than 15 years. Some of them say this is the highlight of their year. The Latin American team invited their uncles to a family picnic on Friday. The player’s families cooked food from Panama so the teams and uncles get to share their cultures with each other.