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September 16, 2009 > NCLL rolls through Niles

NCLL rolls through Niles

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

Niles Boulevard was filled for blocks as the Niles-Centerville Little League Senior All Star team was honored for their remarkable run this summer, culminating in the Senior League Baseball World Series Championship in Bangor, Maine (a 9-7 loss to a Houston, Texas, team).

Not only was the NCLL Senior team honored, all of District 14 were honored, including the Mission San Jose Junior team, which made it to the Western Regional in Ontario, Calif., before being eliminated on a tie-breaker, despite having a 3-1 record.

Fremont Police Department and District 14 Little League (Fremont and Newark) made the moving parade possible this past Saturday, Sept. 12. Leading the route were various little league teams, including the aforementioned Mission team. And the Senior All Stars from NCLL rode through in vintage automobiles to the nonstop applause of the fans flooding the sidewalks.

While the team and their families all paid out of pocket for their trips to Southern California and Maine, they got a good chunk of their money back, as Supervisor of the 2nd District in Alameda County Gail Steele and Supervisor for the 1st District in Alameda County cut a check of $12,000 for D14, presented to them at the picnic held after the parade in Niles Community Park on Third Street.

Mayor of Fremont Bob Wasserman rode in the lead car with coaches Perry Romero, Roger Dhanda and Mike Branco, which took them from Niles and F Street to Niles and H Street.

"I think it caught everybody's interest," said the Mayor. "It was really great to watch them ... and to see them do so well."

This run was the first time a Niles-Centerville Little League team made a national tournament. And this run brought the community together.

"It's often unfortunate occasions that bring people together," said Wasserman. "This is a good occasion and a heart-warming thing to go through."

And in lieu of their success, the interest in building a potential ball field in Fremont is rising.

"Certainly, when things like this happen, it keeps interest going and generates new interest," said Wasserman who feels baseball's interest has been lost over the years. "But in the long run, this will help in producing new parks."

"It would be great if the city took a greater lead in providing the fields," said District 14 Majors Coordinator Vic Langford, who noted there is no central facility for baseball in Fremont. "It would be great if they saw what our teams have done ... if they could recognize that and sponsor some fields in Fremont, it would be to the benefit of everyone in Fremont - not just the baseball teams."

But the Niles area wasn't the only source of pride for the NCLL team who won 16 of their last 17 games, Langford also pushed for his competitor to win in Bangor last month.

"We were all following Niles as they went all the way and we were all pumped up for them," said Langford who helps run Warm Springs Little League. "We lose a lot of players to high school and travel ball, so now it looks like more players will come to us."

And now there is hope throughout the area that they can be the "next Niles" team, making it all the way to the World Series.

"When you see them do it, it makes you feel that you can do it," Langford said. "That's why it's so great for all of the teams here; and you're already finding more interest in little league baseball as a result of (the Niles Senior All Star) team."

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