Manager Joe Girardi with the Ugandan Little League team at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
August 29, 2012, 3:14 PM
The Yankees had special guests visit them on Wednesday: the Ugandan Little League team, the first African team to advance to a Little League World Series, was given a tour of the clubhouse by Manager Joe Girardi.
“It was a beautiful place,” center fielder Fred Ojerku said.
The Little Leaguers met several Yankees, including Robinson Cano and Andy Pettitte, who demonstrated his weight-lifting routine for them, and saw the amenities that make even other major league players stare in amazement.
They had just traveled north from Philadelphia, where they visited Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, and went directly to the Stadium. When one of the boys whispered to Girardi that he needed to use the restroom, Girardi offered the facility in his office, at which point about half the team crammed in, too.
“I just tried to show them around a little bit and spend some time with them,” Girardi said. “It’s a wonderful story. It takes everyone back to your Little League days. To watch what these kids accomplished, talking to their coaches; none of them had ever even seen an airplane before or ever traveled before. For them to accomplish what they have is truly amazing.”
While they were in Philadelphia they met with Rollins, the Phillies shortstop, who is one of the Ugandan Little League’s biggest supporters. Rollins traveled to Uganda in January with his sister, Shay, and visited teams.
The Little League World Series is usually a fixture on clubhouse TVs across baseball, and the Yankees were no exception this year. They saw the dominance of the Japanese players and the endearing spirit by the team from Uganda. Girardi even referred to a throw made by one of the players in their final game, in which the Ugandans beat Gresham, Ore., 3-2, in a consolation game.
“It was a thrill for me to meet them,” Girardi said. “From a human interest story, we were all excited to watch them play.”