FAIRFIELD, Conn. —The First Selectman gave them the key to the city. Their U.S. senator invited them to Washington, D.C.
Heck, there was even free ice cream when the Fairfield American Little League team came back home from an exciting World Series run that ended with an elimination defeat Thursday night in Williamsport, Pa.
“We need more of these kinds of kids,” said First Selectman Mike Tetreau shortly before handing the team the key to the town. “I couldn’t be prouder of these young men. They’re the third team in the whole country. That’s remarkable.”
A convoy of state and Fairfield police, lights flashing, escorted the team bus from the state line up to Sherman Green, where an estimated 400 fans cheered and waved signs as the players high-fived youngsters crowding the sidewalk.
A cheer went up for pitcher Ethan Righter, as he and his teammates climbed the steps of the gazebo before throngs wearing Fairfield Little League and Fairfield American T-shirts and hats.
“He’s been sleeping with a baseball glove since he was about two,” said the 13-year-old’s beaming mom, Robin, who was in Pennsylvania for the team’s whole 3-2 run.
Righter deemed the experience “nerve-wracking,” but ultimately fantastic.
“It was unbelievable,” she said. “You’re nervous for them, but really, so proud.”
Matt McGuire, president of Fairfield Little League, praised the team for its can-do spirit and respect for the game and players from across the country.
“It was pure Little League,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said his own children played Little League baseball, invited the boys to come to the nation’s capitol so he could introduce them to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
“You are heroes,” he said. “Every one of you are heroes.”
Little League sponsor Subway sent over complimentary sandwiches for the team and Saugatuck Sweets across the street from the green promised free ice cream for a job well done.
Manager Mike Randazzo passed out signed baseballs to Blumenthal, Tetreau and state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, who thanked all the moms, dads and coaches who spent countless hours helping the team live out its dreams.
Randazzo said the boys were so excited he had to call ‘“no-questions-for-Coach” time now and then during the Williamsport odyssey. Asked what he was going to do next, he took a deep breath and smiled.
“I’m gonna smoke a cigar in my backyard,” he said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.