The 2010 American Legion Baseball World Series swung into action Thursday evening in Spokane, Wash., with a Banquet of Champions dinner held in the local convention center. The dinner was attended by coaches and players, along with many Legion Baseball supporters who addressed the young men, including Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill and Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, George Brett.
As the coaches and players entered into the dining hall in procession, they were greeted with applause and cheers, recognized as the final eight Legion Baseball teams, out of the more than 5,000 that started, playing for the 2010 championship title. Following the procession, everyone stood for the presentation of colors, the invocation and the National Anthem.
Afterward, Baseball Hall of Fame Senior Vice President Bill Haase conducted the POW-MIA ceremony and ended his closing remarks with recognition to Eden Prairie, Minn., coach Mike Halloran, whose son is the team's catcher. Halloran earned The George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year award in 1983 as a catcher, and he is the first recipient of the award in Legion history to come back and coach Legion Baseball.
As soon as the players fueled up on bread, pasta and cupcakes for today's four games, George Brett took the microphone with power in his voice. While his list of accomplishments and awards runs long, Brett is highly noted for being the only Major League Baseball player in history to amass more than 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, 600 doubles, 100 triples and 200 stolen bases. Brett shared with the players that while his success is recognizable, he worked hard to achieve it all.
"No matter if I was hitting over a 300, I took batting practice every single day," Brett said. "I wanted to make sure my fundamentals were dialed in."
Even more so, Brett focused on the importance of being a good teammate, setting a good example, playing the game with respect, hustling all the time and walking onto the field with a positive can-do attitude.
"I can relive hits of the past and forget all about my failures," Brett said. "You have to walk into every game feeling like you are in control. Because one day someone is going to take the uniform off your back. So go on and enjoy it."
As a result of Brett's inspiring speech, the players walked out of the convention center ready to take the field, play ball and have fun while doing so. Watch the games live today starting at 1 p.m. (EST) by clicking here.