Big hearts in Little League
News and notes from around the majors and Little League, including Gaylord Perry's devotion to the kids' game.
Candy got a rare treat -- a 12-year-old tutoring Mr. Candiotti about the knuckleball. It was Southern California's Jordan Brower, who showed Tom his three-finger knuckler that he's been throwing since he was 10! It's one of about five pitches he features, from three different arm angles. Brower is one of the reasons that as 10-year-olds, this group shocked the Yorba Linda team with Tim Wallach's and Buck Rodgers' offspring on it and went to win the California championship. In fact, in three years, this group has never lost, including 17-0 this year, as they head to Williamsport having outscored the opposition 134-20. They're coached by Tom Ginther, who still gets a lot of support from Thousand Oaks icon Sparky Anderson. As the Tigers' manager, Sparky first noticed Ginther at nearby Cal Lutheran College, where he had brought Kirk Gibson for workouts. Next thing he knew, Ginther got a call from Detroit GM Bill Lajoie and spent a year in rookie ball, and the next spring at Lakeland, before getting cut and beginning his Little League odyssey. He's been at it so long, he coached the father of his current shortstop Tyler Karp, who now helps out with the team. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, next door in North Park, drops by when he can, always bringing a load of Angels equipment to pass out and thrill the kids.
Gary Miller is a reporter and play-by-play announcer for ESPN's major league baseball coverage.