Champions arrive at Mitch Stadium
CEREDO-KENOVA — Doug Flynn’s message to the 9 and 10-year olds getting set for the 2013 Little League Baseball Tournament of State Champions took on a little more meaning Friday evening at Mitch Stadium.
People know Flynn as a former Major Leaguer who played for the Cincinnati Reds with The Big Red Machine and was a former Gold Glove winner with the New York Mets in 1980.
What many people probably won’t know is that he is also Doug Flynn, the cancer survivor. Flynn underwent thyroid cancer treatment in 2010 and was deemed cleared after undergoing treatment.
Prior to his Friday trip to Mitch Stadium, he had what was supposed to be a routine checkup with his doctor.
It turned into an unsettling morning when he had to undergo a biopsy after doctors found something they didn’t like during his checkup.
Undaunted, the 62-year-old Flynn came to speak to the youngsters at Mitch Stadium who were readying for what will be a weekend full of memories.
Then, 15 minutes before he was set to speak to the teams from eight different states, he got a text message from his doctor.
“Driving down here, I was at peace because I know if something happens, I’m going to heaven and I’ve taken care of that, but I really enjoy living and I like life and there’s a few anxious moments where you say ‘You know, I’ve got fishing and golf to do, it’s not really time, is it,’” Flynn said.
“But 15 minutes ago, I got a text from the doctors saying ‘You look good, buddy. It was just blood that had built up in there.”
As Flynn shared the information during his speech, the crowd gave a rousing ovation to the news and Flynn gave a big fist pump as well.
However, the events of the day correlated beautifully with his message to the youngsters gathered in a semi-circle in front of him at home plate.
That message was simple — play every game like it’s your last because your time on the field is limited.
“I would give anything right now to put a uniform on and play,” Flynn said. “Ask your coaches, I bet they’d love to put it back on right now and have one more chance to be a 10-year-old — to come out here and compete, slide into somebody or make a diving catch — just to play one more time.
“Every game that you play this week, do me a favor — play it as hard as you can.
That means when you pop one up, run to first. When you hit a fly ball that you think will be caught, sprint to first. When you hit a grounder, sprint to first. Every single play.”
Flynn’s message was well-received by the 100 kids on eight separate teams who are looking to win the Tournament of State Champions,
While the competition begins Saturday, Friday’s opening ceremonies were about camaraderie.
The teams were introduced on the field and each player’s mother was presented with a rose.
Then, the teams were led on a parade through the towns of Ceredo and Kenova with the final stop being Kenova’s Dreamland Pool for a cookout and pool party.
Teams involved in this year’s tournament are Phenix City National (Ala.), Keystone (Fla.), Oconee County (Ga.), Wilson City (N.C.), Irmo (S.C.), Goodlettsville (Tenn.), Mechanicsville National (Va.) and Bridgeport (W.Va.).
Mechanicsville National and Bridgeport are back for the second consecutive season.
Pool play gets started at 11 a.m., Saturday, with Wilson City taking on Irmo.
Bridgeport then takes on Goodlettsville at 2 p.m. At 5 p.m., Phenix City National meets Keystone before Oconee County and Mechanicsville National round out the day at 8 p.m.
This is the ninth Tournament of State Champions being hosted in the Tri-State and Flynn has spoken at four of them
But much like the kids in attendance Friday, there will likely never be an opening ceremony Flynn remembers more than this one.
Games begin Saturday in the Little League Baseball (age 9-10) Tournament of State Champions at Mitch Stadium.
State championship teams
Phenix City National LL (Ala.)
Keystone LL (Odessa, Fla.)
Oconee County LL (Watkinsville, Ga.)
Wilson City LL (N.C.)
Irmo LL (Columbia, S.C.)
Goodlettsville LL (Tenn.)
Mechanicsville National LL (Va.)
Bridgeport LL (W.Va.)
11 a.m., North Carolina vs. South Carolina
2 p.m., Tennessee vs. West Virginia
5 p.m., Alabama vs. Florida
8 p.m., Georgia vs. Virginia
11 a.m., North Carolina vs. Tennessee
2 p.m., Alabama vs. Georgia
5 p.m., Florida vs. Virginia
8 p.m., South Carolina vs. West Virginia
11 a.m., Georgia vs. Tennessee
2 p.m., Florida vs. South Carolina
5 p.m., Virginia vs. West Virginia
8 p.ml, Alabama vs. North Carolina
Semifinals, 5:30 and 8 p.m.
Championship, 7:05 p.m.