By Cary Shuman
Leon Elwell has known for a few years that the players on his 15-year-old Lynn Babe Ruth Baseball All-Star team were a special group. They have not only excelled on the field but they have been a credit to the city, their schools, and their families.
Beginning tonight, the newly crowned Eastern Mass. state champion Lynn Babe Ruth team will be a part of one of the biggest showcases ever in this city when the Lynn Babe Ruth organization hosts the New England Regionals at Fraser Field.
Though Lynn had qualified for the Regionals as the host team, the Elwell Men reaffirmed their excellence with a 6-1 victory in the Eastern Mass. final over an outstanding Medford team that is also quite deserving of its entry in the Regionals.
Christian Burt, one of the team’s aces, led the way with a superb pitching performance against Medford Saturday at the Boston College High School baseball field.
Elwell and his players are excited to be playing in the Regionals in front of the expected large hometown audiences and hope to win it all and qualify for the Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota.
“It’s a really special honor to have the Regionals in Lynn,” said Elwell. “It’s a little crazy that we might have an opportunity to play for a world championship. But that’s a long way away. A lot of things have to happen.”
Elwell previously coached in the Regionals in 2000 when his Lynn team came within one victory of the New England championship. Two of Elwell’s colleagues in the Lynn Fire Department, Chris Oram and Timmy Magner, were members of that outstanding team.
Elwell has coached several of the current Lynn players since they were 5 and 6 years old.
“I have a close bond with the players on this team,” said Elwell. “I’ve watched them grow up from little kids to young men. I hope we’ll have some good crowds at the games. We have a great group of parents. I just want to say thank you to all the people who helped bring the tournament to Lynn. Jim Beliveau and Bill Terlecky and Jeff Earp have done a great job.”
Christian Burt said, “just hearing, ‘Babe Ruth World Series’ and being so close to getting there is unbelievable to him at this point.
“It would be great to win this tournament but all the teams are champions and deserve to be here,” said Burt. “Our coaches have been great and kept us under control. This team never gives up. We play to the last out. We’d love to win the regionals and play in the World Series.”
Jeff Earp, one of the true unsung heroes of Lynn youth baseball, said the Regionals took several months in the planning stages and are a dream come true for Lynn Babe Ruth.
“We’ve always wanted to do this,” said Earp. “This is tremendous credibility for our program, for the city, for Fraser Field. It’s just a great, great thing for us to do. I hope the city of Lynn and the entire area comes out and supports this tournament.”
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy congratulated Lynn Babe Ruth for hosting such a fantastic event.
“I know Lynn Babe Ruth will represent our city well and be a tremendous host for all these teams in New England,” said Kennedy. “I wish manager Elwell and the Lynn team the best of luck.”