It never ceases to amaze me how the local fan base supports baseball in Mifflin County.
At the recent District 7 13-year-old tournament in Biglerville, the Mifflin County fans outnumbered the three other teams' supporters - Gettysburg, Upper Adams and Perry County - combined.
In between games on July 10 for the Mifflin County 13-year-olds, the parents and the coaching staff put together a picnic to feed the players and their fans that was fit for a king, or at least a Babe Ruth player. There was plenty of food and the team has its own grill that put out hot dogs and hamburgers.
And this was not the first time that has happened. Just last year, at the 15-year-old Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Saugerties, N.Y., Mifflin County was scheduled to play a doubleheader on the first day of regionals.
The Mifflin County parents put together a picnic, which if you didn't know any better, you would have thought, you were at Rec Park - not 300-plus miles from Mifflin County.
On Wednesday at the 15-year-old tournament in Middletown, the Mifflin County fans not only out-numbered the Wayne County fans by a significant amount, but also brought canopies along to shield themselves from the sun and root Mifflin County on to a 12-6 win.
Over the past 40 years, when Mifflin County Babe Ruth has been on the road, weather it has been 3,000 miles from home or within a 100-mile range, people have always commented about how impressive the fan base has been.
In 2007, I can remember talking to a former Mifflin County resident who now lives in State College. His son's team was coming over the Seven Mountains to play Mifflin County on a Saturday night in the state tournament. The father told the son not to be surprised if the place is packed and the fans are going crazy. His son just looked at him and thought he was crazy.
Final score: Mifflin County 13, State College 1.
There is no doubt that the fans who come out and support local baseball, especially Babe Ruth, have made a difference.
Mifflin County's record at Armagh Memorial Field is 220-42. In the Mid-Atlantic Regional final in 2004, when Mifflin County was playing Maryland for the title and the right to go to the World Series, the people in the Maryland dugout couldn't believe how many people showed up at the stadium.
Final score: Mifflin County 15, Maryland 6.
And in 1997, Mifflin County was the host for the 14-15-year-old state tournament. Its first game was against Drexel Hill, a team two years before had beaten Mifflin County soundly on the road, 16-0, and went on to finish third in the country at the 13-year-old World Series.
Armagh Field was jam packed and the Drexel Hill team came to the field with an attitude that they were playing a bunch of players that were more interested in the corn fields than making double plays.
The crowd that night was large and loud and Mifflin County won 7-3 and went on to win the state title. The manager of that team, Dave Wolfkill, has always credited the hometown crowd that night as being a factor.
The success of the Mifflin County Babe Ruth League has been above and beyond what most leagues in the state have even dreamed about.
For this league, thanks to the fans and their support, home is never further than the next game.
Ray Wilde is a Sentinel correspondent.