Uncles Assist Little Leaguers

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WILLIAMSPORT -- The kids playing in the Little League World Series may be the stars, but they have a lot of help behind the scenes.

As Team Caribbean got ready to take batting practice, two men in a golf cart looked on. They are the team's uncles.

"When they first arrive, we meet them at the bus. We get them in their dorms and get their uniforms and everything," said Ron Wagner, an uncle of a player on team Caribbean.

The uncles are with the teams the whole time to help them with whatever they need.

"I've enjoyed every year that I've been here. It's been a great experience for me and I really enjoy it," said Bob Massetti, an uncle for Team Mexico.

Massetti has been an uncle at the Little League World Series for 26 years. He and Jim Kriner are from Loyalsock Township and are both uncles for Team Mexico this year. The 32 uncles are each assigned to a team at a banquet in June.

"They have a big bag with baseballs in it and each ball has a team name on it. You go and pick a ball out and that's which team you have," said Wagner.

Some of the uncles say they exchange gifts with the kids on their teams. Wagner said the team from the Caribbean got him a t-shirt that says 'Curaco Boys of Summer'. The kids from Mexico got a flag for their uncles to put on their golf cart.

"A lot of autographs and some pictures," said Kriner.

Jim Kriner said Team Mexico speaks fluent English but sometimes there is a language barrier between the teams and the uncles. To him, that makes no difference.

"Regardless of where they're from, they're still kids. No matter what language they speak or what they eat, they're still kids," said Kriner.