In mid-July, Montesano resident Kesten Delia was busy helping his 10-and-under Little League team win a district championship, with grandfather John cheering him on.
A month later, they’d be sitting in a famed ballpark in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, checking off a big bucket list item in the process.
For John and Kesten, a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport turned out to be more than they hoped it would be.
It all started when John, a former Little League player and later coach, had a conversation with an old friend and well-known youth baseball advocate on the Harbor.
“In the 1980s I coached in the Montesano Little league programs and met (District 3 administrator) Glen Dickason,” Delia said. “In July, I had asked Glen if going to the Little League World series was worth it and he said it was a ‘must see.’”
It was at that point that Dickason said something the piqued Delia’s interest.
“He also told me that he was not going this year and offered me his VIP tickets for the championship weekend,” said Delia, noting VIP tickets are not for public purchase. “With the blessing of my wife Debbie, I asked my 10-year-old grandson, Kesten, if he wanted to go for his birthday.”
According to Delia, his grandson’s reaction was what one would expect from a young baseball player and fan.
“He was speechless.”
So John booked a flight out of SeaTac to the Philadelphia International Airport then rented a car for the three-hour trip northwest to Williamsport’s Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
The pair arrived on Thursday, Aug. 25 in time to watch Curacao beat Mexico 2-1 then see Tennessee beat Texas 7-1 before staying to attend the home run derby.
While there, family back home contacted John to inform him they viewed Kesten on ESPN’s televised coverage during a break in the Curacao-Mexico game.
John and Kesten stayed in Williamsport for Saturday’s International and United States Championship games as well as the World Series Championship game on Sunday, in which Hawaii defeated Curacao 13-3.
“There was no doubt the Hawaii team was the team to beat and they proved it,” John said. “The games we watched were unbelievable. The play was good as any MLB game but without the attitude.”
While there, Kesten took photos with other players, enjoyed “expensive” concession food, according to John, and engaged in a popular LLWS tradition.
“Players, coaches and umpires like to trade pins and Kesten was able to trade for pins from Taipei, Hawaii, Tennessee, the UK and many other areas,” John said.
Of his adventure in Williamsport, Kesten told John it was “awesome” and it was “better than any trip to Disneyland.”
For John, the trip had just as deep a meaning and provided memories he will never forget.
“After life-changing health issues last year for both my wife and I, we have a different perspective on life,” he said. “I had a bucket list to include a salmon fishing trip near Rivers Inlet in Canada. I did that in July, but more important on my list was to go to the Little League World Series in Williamsport. … I recommend it to any parent that wants to experience the best Little League experience.”