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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES : ‘Quake Kids’ Face Media Avalanche

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bleary-eyed from a day of travel and a 7 a.m. wake-up call Sunday, Northridge Little League players braced themselves for about 6.8 zillion questions about the Jan. 17 earthquake that will forever be associated with their city.

More than 200 members of the media have been credentialed to cover the eight-team Little World Series, which begins today. Northridge (17-0), representing the Western Region, will face Brooklyn Center, Minn., the Central Region champion, at 4 p.m. (PDT).

With about two reporters for every player, interesting angles are in demand. Brooklyn Center, for example, has a girl, Krissy Wendell, playing catcher.

Northridge has an earthquake.

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Although many parents wear T-shirts declaring the team, “The Earthquake Kids,” they are reluctant to recount the hardships they endured--and continue to endure.

“I don’t like to make a big to-do about it because so many people suffered,” said Pat Cunningham, mother of catcher Matt Cunningham. “Baseball sign-ups were two weeks after the earthquake, and I guess that provided therapy for the kids.

“The kids were able to focus on something they love, and that was good. They don’t seem troubled in any way.”

Putting the pieces back together after the temblor brought some families closer together. Right fielder Spencer Gordon has seen a lot more of his mother and father, attorneys who practice together.

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Eric and Bonnie Gordon’s Warner Center office has yet to be reopened, so they practice out of their Northridge home. A home that remains severely damaged.

“My mom drove me back and forth to practice this year,” Spencer Gordon said. “They both saw more games than usual, and everybody’s home for dinner.”

Baseball provided a more immediate saving grace for others. Four Northridge players weren’t home during the earthquake because they were playing in an Amateur Athletic Union baseball tournament in Riverside.

“We were staying in the San Bernardino Hilton when it hit, and we didn’t think much of it until we turned on the TV and saw the fires,” said Jack Fisher, father of shortstop Matt Fisher.

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“I got to my house and it was like the ‘Poseidon Adventure,’ ” he said. “All the windows were blown out and the downstairs was destroyed. I only stayed 10 minutes, that’s all I could handle.”

Now, in Williamsport, they are still having to deal with nature. Rain on Sunday morning rendered the practice fields unplayable until late afternoon. Opening ceremonies Sunday night were moved from Howard J. Lamade Field indoors to the nearby Williamsport Community Arts Center because of the wet grounds.


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