Carrollton 12s make history in Cooperstown

Carrollton 12s make history in Cooperstown
New Orleans native and MLB player Randy Staub passed away Thursday morning. (Source: Flickr Commons)

(WVUE) - Over the weekend, a first for Louisiana happened some fourteen hundred miles away.

At the birthplace for baseball, some future stars of the game were the biggest stars in Cooperstown.

"It's pretty awesome. Their first time ever winning as Carrollton at Cooperstown," said pitcher Grayson Gallinghouse.

"I knew we were going to go in as a force but we didn't know we're gonna be that good," said teammate Will Zurik.

Not only did the Carrollton 12s become the first Louisiana team to win the title, they never lost a game.

"No doubt it was a surprise that we were as dominant as we were," said parent Van Gallinghouse, who's a team parent of the Carrollton 12s.

"We started to get confidence in ourselves. We started competing much better," said Gallinghouse.

The 12s raised their game to a level that was unmatched the entire week. They smashed 45 home runs, looking like big leaguers hitting in a little league park. They didn't lose a single preliminary game, a perfect six and oh. So, of course, the talk then was - maybe we can win it all.

But it was during the early part of the tournament, at the beginning of the elimination round, when things took an unexpected turn for Carrollton. The man that had led them this far, head coach M-H Phillips, all the sudden, had to leave.

"It was like we had no idea that was coming," said Grayson. "We knew that family was first so we understood."

This meant that these 12-year-olds had to come to grips with life's tougher moments. It's certainly not the way M-H would've liked to get his point across on how to deal with adversity, something he often touched on with his players.

But, getting the news of his father's deteriorating health turned out to be his ultimate teaching moment.

"He was having shortness of breath and they took him into the emergency room and everything was going well," said Phillips. "On Tuesday they were going to do an angiogram but they detected he had pneumonia."

"I got a call early in the morning that he had taken a turn for the worse. I just felt like at that point the decision was I need to come home."

"I was asking my son what he thought about it and what made the difference and he said that he wasn't surprised at MH did what he needed to do in terms of going to be with his dad," said Gallinghouse. "Because that's the way and MH is because he got his priorities in place."

And for nearly four decades, one of his priorities has been making sure his players are prepared. So once he decided to go back home, he quickly realized just how 'ready' for this moment they were.

"He was trying to make sure we stayed focused even though he wasn't there," said teammate Will Randle. "We stick with the same plan as if he was there, just don't think about it and just play the Carrollton way. Which is to respect the game and play the game the right way."

So from that moment on, whenever the Carrollton 1's stepped foot on the diamond, they took their head coach with them. Drawing his name in the sand before every game, making sure 'he knew' that he was still a part of this magical ride.

Left-Fielder Will Zurich said the reason why was obvious. "It reminded us to think about him them are playing and play our hardest."

And the gesture didn't go unnoticed by their head coach.

"It means a lot obviously. It means that they're thinking about me and It means that they're focused and prepared and ready to go with this. So yeah it was special."

And with coach following their every move from Louisiana, his kids made history in the town where America's past time is celebrated year round.

Only, on this night, these boys of summer had the stage all to themselves.

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