WALLA WALLA — “Little League baseball is a small world, as it comes around,” Ron Queen wrote me in an email Tuesday morning.
Queen manages the Rainier Little League 10-11-year-old All-Stars out of South Seattle/Columbia City. He found himself sitting with Walla Walla Pacific 11s fans in Gig Harbor, Wash., as Pacific opened the Washington State tournament against Greater Richland on Saturday.
Normally, that might not be the place for the manager of a possible Pacific foe to be found.
But Queen turned out to be a good luck charm for Walla Walla — where he grew up playing baseball.
Queen was raised in Walla Walla, playing Little League at Pacific and continuing through high school ball.
“My coach Dwayne Headley is still coaching, and it has been 50-plus years,” Queen said in his email. ”Dwayne Headley, my dad Troy Queen, the Richards (family) and friends have a stone tribute to them at the field for their years of service to Pacific Little League.”
Ron Queen played baseball throughout his youth with teammates whose son and nephew is Nate Ferraro, manager of this year’s Pacific 11s team.
So Queen’s reception among Pacific fans wasn’t met with suspicion, but with the conviviality that often surrounds youth baseball.
Indeed, Walla Walla trailed 4-1 in the fifth inning Saturday when Pacific rallied for six runs and downed Greater Richland, 7-4, to advance to play Queen’s Rainier squad on Sunday.
“Walla Walla had a great comeback win, and I jokingly remarked that I must have been their good luck charm,” Queen said. “Unfortunately, I would not be rooting for them in the stands the following day. Rather, I would be in the opposing coaches’ box and dugout.
“I got quite a chuckle from the Walla Walla fans!”
On Sunday afternoon, Queen took his Walla Walla good luck with him, and Rainier broke a 2-all tie in the fourth inning with two fifth-inning runs which held up for a 4-2 victory to send Pacific into the elimination bracket.
“It brought back great memories of playing baseball in Walla Walla and all of the great people associated with Walla Walla baseball,” Queen said of the matchup. “Especially the fans, coaches and players from Walla Walla Pacific.”
The loss sent Walla Walla against Spokane South on Monday, and Queen’s good luck must’ve returned to the Pacific dugout as his old league scored six fifth-inning and seven sixth-inning runs to rally to a 16-15 win.
Walla Walla next faces the winner of today’s Burlington Edison-Kirkland American game at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Queen’s Rainier squad plays Pacific, Wash., this afternoon.
If both teams keep winning, they might just meet up again. That would again put Ron Queen’s father, Troy, in a tough spot.
“I asked my dad the before we (Rainier and Walla Walla) played who he was going to root for, and he jokingly remarked, ‘the winner,’” Ron Queen said. “Thank you, dad, for rooting for Rainier Little League. I am sure all of your friends at Pacific Little League appreciate it!
“Like I said, Little League baseball is a small world as it comes around.”