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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK : Ticket Flap Mediated With Creative Bartering

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The ticket problem that had a few Northridge parents threatening to keep their sons from taking the field Saturday was resolved by diligent effort on the part of Pat Cunningham and Paula Mort.

Cunningham, mother of catcher Matt Cunningham, and Mort, a Northridge League official, went to Little League officials Saturday morning and explained that because of Little League’s ticket distribution policy, grandmothers and siblings of players would be required to sit apart from the Northridge parents, who congregate directly above the first-base dugout.

Although there is no admission charge, tickets that stipulate certain areas of the stadium are required.

Cunningham and Mort made a point of mentioning that Pat Reiser, widow of former Brooklyn Dodger Pete Reiser and the grandmother of Northridge player Peter Tuber, would be denied a ticket with the team’s parents.

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They added that television crews would be informed of where Pat Reiser was seated.

Voila! Little League produced more tickets for the preferred area, but still not enough to enable all 104 Northridge supporters to sit together.

Mort and several Northridge parents kept at it, trading pins and Earthquake T-shirts to ushers and fans in exchange for tickets. A few ushers simply began to look the other way when Northridge fans streamed to the seats.

By the time the game began, all Northridge supporters were sitting above the dugout.

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“It’s just a shame we had to stress out and spend all this time doing what Little League should have taken care of all along,” Cunningham said.

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Game for the ages: Whispers all over Williamsport suggest that the Venezuelan players are older than 12. But according to the World Series media guide, Northridge actually had the oldest players of the eight teams.

A player’s “Little League age” is his age on July 31. Players born in August and September are the oldest legal Little Leaguers. Peter Tuber of Northridge turned 13 on Aug. 6 and teammate David Teraoka turned 13 on Aug. 9.

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Of Northridge’s 14 players, 11 were born between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 1981, including seven players born in August or September.

The youngest 12-year-old player is Matt Cassel, who won’t be 13 until April 20. Gregg Wallis and John-Michael Baca are 11.

Cesar Hidalgo, the starting pitcher for Venezuela Saturday, turned 13 today, according to the media guide.

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A special trip: Jonathan Higashi, the Northridge player disqualified after the Southern California tournament for living outside the Northridge boundaries, has spent all week with the team.

Higashi and his parents spent Friday in Cooperstown, N.Y., at the baseball Hall of Fame, which is a four-hour drive from Williamsport.

“I’d love to be out there playing, but the team is doing so great,” Higashi said. “It’s just great being here.”

Higashi’s father, Curtis, is pleased with the way Jonathan has been treated by the Northridge contingent.

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“Everybody is so supportive,” he said. “Jonathan’s been able to make the transition real well. When we get back, he’ll take part in all the activities the team has planned.”

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Kids again: Most fathers of Northridge players did more than stand around and watch during practices.

They put on gloves and shagged fly balls. During scrimmages, they took positions and didn’t mind looking silly dropping throws and tumbling on the ground.

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With television cameras chronicling practices the past few days however, some dads stayed on the sidelines.

“I don’t want to look like a fool on ESPN,” chuckled Phil Wallis, father of third baseman Gregg.


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