A Special Night For The Pearland Boys
On Monday night in Houston, the boys of the Pearland Little League team were honored with a special dinner for themselves, their families and their coaches compliments of Texas Land & Cattle. And before the boys sat down to eat, each one also received a new pair of POWERHANDZ weighted Pure-Grip baseball gloves, an innovative training product from the company’s line of performance enhancing weighted sports gloves. In case you need a reminder, the boys from Pearland, TX made a wild run at the Little League World Series Championship in August, before eventually taking home 3rd place behind the teams from Japan and Pennsylvania. After dinner ScoreBoardTX had a chance to sit down with the team’s manager Andrew Solomon, and find out what the man with the dreadlocks had to say about everything that’s happened to him and his team over the summer.
ScoreBoardTX: So Andrew, you’ve been with this bunch of kids for a while now. Can you describe what it was like to work with them?
Solomon: For the past six years, this group of boys has worked incredibly hard, and prepared themselves for this summer and their opportunity to compete for a spot in the Little League World Series (in Williamsport, PA), which is the dream of every Little League player. Along with my coaches, Jeremi Tadlock and Joe DeLeon, it was our honor to coach and help them obtain that dream.
ScoreBoardTX: It looked like all off you – the kids, parents, siblings and coaches – all had a really great time tonight. What are some of the other special things they’ve been able to do since returning to Texas?
Solomon: The boys and all of us were truly honored that Tim Dungan (owner of Texas Land & Cattle chain) threw that dinner for us. We had a lot of fun and the food was great. Then on top of that they also received these very cool training gloves from POWERHANDZ. The boys have always worked hard and embraced new and different training methods so it didn’t surprise me that they were already wearing the gloves around the restaurant. Several of them told me they’re really excited to start using them. We all appreciated everything that was done for us Monday night, and all the other events that have been hosted in their honor. The City of Pearland held a celebration on Sept. 12, the Sugarland Skeeters hosted the team on Sept. 19, the Brazoria County Commissioner’s Court proclaimed Sept. 22 as Pearland Little League West All Star Day, and the Houston Astros are hosting the team this Saturday. All amazing stuff.
ScoreBoardTX: Can you explain how everything worked as they moved up the Little League ladder over the years? Their success didn’t just happen overnight did it?
Solomon: Jeremi Tadlock and I have coached together in Little League for the past 5 years and we also coach most of these boys year round as part of the Pearland Terror baseball team. We coached them to the Texas East Little League championship as 10-year-olds. During this summer, it was our honor to watch the boys win the Texas District 15 Little League Championship, the Texas Section 3 Little League Championship, the Texas East Little League Championship, the Southwest Region Little League Championship, and ultimately finish as the third best Little League team in the world (out of 7,000 teams) and the United States runner-up (to Pennsylvania). It was fun to watch them develop as baseball players, teammates, and young men.
ScoreBoardTX: It was truly a remarkable run they had. What would you say your most long lasting memory will be?
Solomon: The most memorable moment was descending to the field on Sunday morning and having thousands of Pennsylvania fans give our team a standing ovation and encourage us to defeat Mexico later that day. We had clearly earned the respect and admiration of the Pennsylvania fans and that meant the world to our players and coaches.
ScoreBoardTX: So what was the general frame of mind of the kids when they first got to Williamsport? Were they nervous to be on the big stage?
Solomon: Throughout the tournament, many people asked how the boys could play so loose and not be nervous on the big stage. To be quite honest, we’re not entirely certain how they managed to stay so seemingly immune from the pressure of the moment. As coaches, we constantly reminded the boys that they were just playing a baseball GAME…the game that they loved playing with their best friends. We also focused them on playing for a full six innings and not letting one bad inning derail their focus. It also helped that they’re an incredibly deep team with thirteen excellent players; no one player felt the pressure to carry the team and they always knew that someone would get the job done even if it was a different player in different games. All of these things helped to relax the boys and allow them to play their best on a very big stage before millions of people watching on TV.
ScoreBoardTX: OK I have to ask about the dreads – they’ve make you quite recognizable around town I’m sure. When did you decide to dye them? I also heard you were going to let them boys cut them off if they won it all – true?
Solomon: Two years ago, when the boys were ten years old, they decided that my dreadlocks should be cut if they made it to the Texas Little League championship. When I arrived in the dugout for the sectional championship game, there were signs that read cut the dreads. After winning the sectional and Texas East championships that year, the boys cut off about 4 inches of my dreads. When we got together this summer, the boys wanted to color the dreads if they won the Southwest regional championship and cut them if they won the Little League World Series. When we arrived in Williamsport, I kept my promise to them and we settled on our team’s colors – purple and silver – for the dreads. We also agreed to let them cut them off if they won the championship. The boys came close…very close…to getting their ultimate goals…..winning the LLWS and getting to cut off the dreads….but the dreads were spared. It is, admittedly, pretty surreal that some pretty bad hair has now made me a recognizable figure throughout Houston and Texas.
ScoreBoardTX: So what’s next for the boys?
Solomon: Many people have asked what’s next for the team and for our coaches. To be honest, we’re not certain. Right now, all of us are taking a break from baseball and focusing on school, football, and other interests. At some point, we will decided what’s best for the team. Regardless of what happens, it’s been a great run for them.
ScoreBoardTX: You mentioned you had a chance to meet some men from the Houston area who had played in the Little League World Series back in the 50s, 60s and 70s – all who have incredible memories from their playing time. You think it will be the same for you and your kids a few decades from now?
Solomon: One of the neat things about our Little League World Series experience is that it’s a lasting memory. In Williamsport, we met two gentlemen from the 1950 Houston LLWS team and they’re still best of friends. In Pearland, we know two great men, Woody Winfield and Mike Doleski, who played in the LLWS in the 1960s and 1970s. Interesting, despite lots of other athletic and business accomplishments, both men view their LLWS summer as one of the highlights of their lives. We certainly hope that the boys from this year’s teams accomplish great things in their lives, but we’re also certain that they will always have lasting memories and friendships from this incredible summer.
ScoreBoardTX: Thanks Andrew!