After fund-raising and preparing for two full years, the 12U West Milford Bears saw their dream of playing in Cooperstown come true.
The team consisted of 12 players: James Afflerbach, Aiden Clark, Max DeRobertis, Sam DeRobertis, Luke Havel, Zach Johnson, Mason LaNeve, Jack Lizza, Tristan Mirrer, Kyle Schwarzlow, Blake Tyburczy and Oliver Worthing.
The team traveled to Cooperstown All-Star Village on Aug. 14 to compete in week 11 of the tournament.
Led by coaches Ed DeRobertis, Scott DeRobertis, Matt LaNeve, Scott Havel and Kevin Mayberry, the team represented West Milford baseball among 55 other highly competitive teams from across the country.
The team came in fifth overall for the most home runs hit, with a grand total of 23, hit by nine out of the twelve players. This ranks them 83rd out of the 696 teams that have played there this entire summer.
The team batting average was .362.
The Bears ranked fourth for the least amount of home runs hit against them, letting only four throughout the tournament.
The boys experienced some amazing wins as well as some tough losses.
But for a small home town team, they came out strong with a 4-2 record for pool play, which moved The Bears onto the playoffs.
With one win followed by a tough loss during the playoffs, the Bears ended with an impressive 5-3 record.
While the boys represented on the field throughout the week, something else was happening both off and on the field.
These boys built relationships with other baseball players from across the country.
They traded pins and phone numbers.
They shared meals and laughter.
They supported each other in some amazing ways.
Every time a homerun was hit, the other team enthusiastically gave the batter a high five as he ran the bases. It was truly amazing to watch.
They were there to play, but there is something about Cooperstown that brings a little magic onto the field. There is something about Cooperstown that bonds a team.
Baseball is a sport, of course, but in the words of Juliana Hatfield: “Baseball is more than a game. It’s like life being played out on a field.”
The 12U West Milford Bears made memories of a lifetime out on the fields of Cooperstown, memories they won’t soon forget.
This story and photos were provided by Jennifer Lizza.