Double parade for Broomall Newtown Babe Ruth teams

Broomall's Babe Ruth baseball team travels down West Chester Pike. (Akira Suwa/Staff Photographer)

A slight drizzle began falling, but the teenagers filling up two flatbed trucks in the Acme parking lot didn't appear bothered. This parade assembling in the lot in Newtown Square, Delaware County, was for them.

"Everybody look over, there's Mrs. Mathes," a coach told the Broomall Newtown Babe Ruth baseball players on the two trucks.

Suzanne Mathes, up on the sidewalk, focused her camera on both trucks. She had grandsons on each, and each were national champs. Sunday's parade was to honor the 15-year-old and 13-year-old teams from Broomall Newtown Babe Ruth. Both teams won a national title in their age division.

What could be the odds? As great an accomplishment as Taney Little League pulled off making it to the American semifinal of the Little League World Series, one level up, two teams from the same two-town organization won it all.

They've been playing Babe Ruth baseball for over six decades, and only one team from Pennsylvania had ever won the national title in any of the four age groups. Here was Broomall-Newtown, winning two at once.

They'll all remember the parade. They all figured maybe it would just be family members scrambling for places along the 31/2-mile route to make sure there were cheers along the way. Wrong. There weren't the crazy crowds that greeted Taney - remember, Broomall, not Center City. But on practically every corner another little crowd gathered. The town came out.

"How cool is this?" one of the coaches mentioned on the 15-year-old truck, as blaring fire trucks from three towns accompanied them down West Chester Pike.

The players themselves played it fairly cool, waving to admirers, many holding signs.

"Wait till you see the mob down here . . ."

"Holy smokes."

Turning past the Pep Boys on to Springfield Road, they saw more: a little group in front of the Rite Aid. A man in a wheelchair had been wheeled to his front stoop. The group on the truck saw faces they recognized. "Hey, Scotty." Some of the signs from the sidewalk suggested familiarity: "Yo Dog!"

It rained hard later that afternoon but pretty much held off through the parade.

"There was no rain during any of the tournament games," said Rick Woodcock, manager of the 15-year-old team as the truck turned from Springfield on to Cedar Grove Road. "They can rain on the parade all they want."

In the next flatbed, the 13-year-olds tried to grab passing tree branches on Cedar Grove Road.

"That was just incredible," said Vince Greco, a pitcher for the 15-year-old team.

"Pretty entertaining," said Scott Hahn, who pitched the final game of the 15-year-old World Series.

It was the 13-year-olds who got the job done first, winning their World Series in Glen Allen, Va. Through district, state, and regional play, those guys went undefeated. "Everybody started getting so hyped - we started ten-running all these teams," noted Sean Galway of the 13-year-old team.

They lost once in pool play of the national tournament, but even that worked in their favor, said their coach, Dan Cahalane. They could set up their rotation, preparing their two top starters, both lefthanders, for the elimination rounds.

"In the 13 [age group], there's a lot of stealing going on," Cahalane said. "Our lefties were able to shut down some of their running games."

A favorite moment? Jimmy Openshaw of the 13s said it was when his team clinched it, and centerfielder Jimmy Beaky whipped a phone out of the back pocket of his uniform and began filming as he ran toward the pile forming by the pitcher's mound.

The nationals overlapped, but Alden Mathes of the 13s and his older brother Cameron on the 15s were able to watch live streams of each other's games on their phones. (Alden picked up the win in the semifinal game; his brother did the same in the 15 semifinal).

The 15s had the tougher path. In both state and regional play, they lost in pool play. It happened again at nationals. They also had more travel, winding up in Longview, Wash.

A couple of players on the 15s said their favorite moment was the semifinals in regionals, tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth, Vince Sposato up with two outs.

"Breaking ball, middle up," Sposato said when asked about his game-winning home run. "That's my favorite spot. . . . 2-1, that's my favorite count. I could just try to smash it. I hit it to right field, right next to the scoreboard."

At parade's end, the league had a ceremony for both teams at their home Thomas Field. A few hundred people were there and cameras from Channels 3, 6 and 10.

As soon as they jumped off the trucks, the guys from both teams didn't give a thought about what to do first. However notable their accomplishment, here were two-dozen teenage boys. They all headed right for the concession stand.