The San Diego Breakers were undefeated champions last week in Cooperstown, New York. The Breakers — a group of 11 and 12-year-old baseball buddies from Carmel Valley and Del Mar — were formed for a purpose: To compete at Cooperstown Baseball World, a highly regarded tournament attracting top teams from all over the country; even the world.
Cooperstown is the “birthplace of baseball.” It is also home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is the ideal setting in which to hold youth tournaments. Players at Cooperstown get the unique opportunity to live, eat, and play on a college campus. They experience dormitory living with a single focus – playing baseball.
The story begins like this. One year ago on a field in Del Mar, a group of parents share special memories of their sons playing baseball together. Stories from T-Ball to Majors entertain the group. Many reveal how baseball has touched their lives. Yet, for some, a feeling of melancholy takes hold because their final year of Little League is fast approaching.
Then a dad pitches an idea that catches on. He says, “Would you ever consider putting a team together to play at Cooperstown?” Before long, the idea turns into an action plan complete with team sponsors from Miller’s Field, Sammy’s, Jersey Mike’s, and Ivan Boesky.
According to Manager Todd Glick, “Taking these boys to Cooperstown was like a dream come true. But this dream was never about winning the championship… It was about giving our boys an experience of a lifetime.”
Glick said he knew exactly which coaches would help him make this happen. From Del Mar Little League he chose Sam Evans, Roger Bingham, and Rick Braun. Glick said these coaches shared his same philosophy on what it means to be a winner. “We knew we needed to work on our baseball skills,” said Glick. “But we also wanted to concentrate on character qualities like integrity, teamwork, respect, humility, discipline, and sportsmanship.”
The late sportscaster Heywood Hale Broun once said, “Sports do not build character; they reveal it.” The Breakers Coaches agree. “Winning the Cooperstown Tournament was truly remarkable,” they said. “But the highlight of the week was when we won the respect of the other teams competing in the tournament.”
What the coaches are describing is the event that took place in the dorm cafeteria following the semi-final game. The Breakers had just beaten out the team favored to win the whole tournament. A few players on this opposing team were lacking character, to say the least. All the teams knew it. Glick said, “When our team walked into the cafeteria that evening, the entire room started clapping. It was truly inspiring because our boys were honored for being ‘great kids’ … both on and off the baseball field.”
The story ends as a large crowd gathers to watch the final game of the series. The Breakers are taking on Thunder for the championship title. Players from competing teams overwhelmingly cheer for a Breakers victory. After the last ball is thrown, the umpire turns to the coaches from San Diego and says, “You know, it should tell you something when the competition comes to your game and cheers for you to win.”
The San Diego Breakers were winners at Cooperstown; even better, these “young men” from Carmel Valley and Del Mar personified the character traits of a winner. Mission accomplished.