(Third of three parts)
Northwood Little League major manager Bob Garcia gathered his players for practice one summer afternoon at Harvard Park in Irvine in 1987 and made a prediction: his group of 11- and -12-year-old all-stars would earn a trip to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.
Thirty years later, some of the memories fade, but the significance of the Irvine team becoming the only Little League squad from Irvine to earn a trip to the Little League World Series has not been forgotten. It was the fourth year of Northwood’s existence.
“I think we all remember sitting here by the light pole after our first practice on this field and Bob Garcia said, ‘boys, this team is going to Williamsport, we’re going to win it all,’” recalled catcher Ryan Jones last week at Harvard Park. “And he made it happen.
“We had a tough game against Mission Viejo in the district (tournament) and then we just kind of caught fire. We really turned into an excellent Little League team. We could do it all. We could hit, we could play defense, we could pitch and I didn’t realize it at the time and as I got older and played professional baseball, realized how well coached we were. Everybody had their role and knew what was expected of them.”
Garcia’s talk came before the squad opened the district tournament.
The fourteen players – Aron Garcia, Ryan Jones, Chris Greinke, Ryan O’Toole, Tommy Louie, Chris Curry, Erik Sobek, Loc Tran, Steve Mendoza, David Lambert, Geoff Ebdon, Didget Tuttle, Erik Sobek and Erik Silberman –…