We have all been there: heartbreak on the sports field, at the grandest stage, be it real or imagined, chasing sporting glory and ephemeral dreams. A cursory look at the sports landscape today would suggest that in those moments of heartbreak, there is no more time for a genteel pat on the back as consolation. That would mostly be true, if it weren’t for the Little League World Series.
On Monday night, Venezuela defeated the Dominican Republic 3-2 on a two-run, walk-off triple by Omar Romero. With his team ecstatic and boisterous in their celebrations, Venezuela’s manager Alexander Ballesteros noticed Edward Uceta, the DR’s losing pitcher, sobbing on the mound.
The young Uceta had been a star during the Series, almost un-hittable throughout the tournament. That he gave up the game-winning hit clearly overwhelmed him, as he collapsed in tears after Romero’s massive hit. Ballesteros noticed this, and asked his team stop the celebrations in order to console Uceta.
“Edward has a big heart. It was sad,” Ballesteros told EPSN after his team’s win. “It could have happened to anyone. It could have happened to our own ‘Little [Jose] Altuve’ here, [Romero].”
Uceta got hugs from the Venezuela players before he joined the rest of his team in the traditional postgame handshake line, where he received more hugs and consolation from his opponents. The Latino love was spilling all over the field.
“We’re all Latino, we’re brothers,” commented Dominican Republic manager Jose Cordero.
The spirit of friendly competition has been pure throughout the Little League World Series, an event that is taking on equal importance as a cultural exchange. Last week, a South Dakotan player and a Dominican player were caught in the act of communicating with each other on the sidelines through the magic of Google Translate. And, over the weekend, Mexican fans threw their support in for the Dominican Republic during a match between the two nations, as the island nation only had a small contingent of fans.