Little Leaguers ride bus with Phils, Nats to LL Classic complex

August 20th, 2023

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The planes touched down at Williamsport Regional Airport as excited groups of Little League players waited eagerly with handmade signs and cheers to welcome the Nationals and Phillies to the League Little Classic Sunday morning.

Players from the Southwest (Needville, Texas) and Australia (Hills Little League, Sydney) regions, along with Screech and the Racing Presidents mascots, lined up at the base of the stairs to greet the Nationals as they deboarded.

“Little League [Loves] the Nationals” one neon sign read.

“Let’s Go Nats” said another.

“It was really cool,” said rookie Jake Irvin. “It’s just fun to see the smiles on their faces knowing that we’re people that they look up to, and hopefully we can make an impact on them.”

Josiah Gray, Kyle Finnegan, MacKenzie Gore, Stone Garrett, Dominic Smith and Keibert Ruiz then rode a city bus with members of the Southwest Team to the Little League Complex.

On the Phillies' side, Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Rhys Hoskins, Taijuan Walker, Michael Lorenzen, Johan Rojas, Trea Turner and Garrett Stubbs rode the bus with kids from the Ohio and Czech Republic teams.

Stubbs fielded rapid-fire questions from a pair of Ohio teammates about everything from his favorite places to play to his favorite players from other teams to his hobbies away from the field. Elsewhere on the bus, Hoskins and Turner entertained kids with stories and signed autographs, while Harper and Stott exchanged pins – a Little League World Series tradition – with players from both teams.

"It was really cool,” Stott said. “Just to kind of hang out with them for a little bit and kind of hear their stories and stuff like that, it was pretty cool. Definitely something I’ll remember."

The bus was filled with chatter the whole time, with Little Leaguers and Major Leaguers talking baseball, common interests and life.

All the players looked on excitedly as the bus pulled up to the complex, greeted again by huge crowds lined up for their arrival.

It was clear, no matter the age, the passion for the game is the same.