SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Here's the deal. I can tell you how many fans the Big Sky Little League All-Stars Facebook page has right now.
But I can guarantee that by the time you're done reading this, there will be more. That's because the number of people who have "liked" the Big Sky page over the past couple of weeks has grown at a phenomenal rate.
For the record, as of midnight Friday, the number was just more than 12,800. On Thursday, it was in the 8,000-fan range.
"Before all this started, it was less than 100, when our kids took off to San Bernardino" on Aug. 3, said Walt Wright, webmaster of the Big Sky page. "It was basically people in our league. Nobody from the outside really knew what Big Sky was."
Wright is the information officer for Big Sky Little League in Billings. He has three children in Little League, son Carsten who played 11-12 majors this year, son Trevor, 7, who played coach pitch, and daughter Lauren, 5, who played T-ball.
Wright decided to create a Facebook page before the start of the baseball season to let parents know when registration was and to pass on other pertinent information. For a picture, he used the Big Sky logo.
Things were quiet until Big Sky won the Northwest Region championship in San Bernardino on Aug. 13. Then the team came to South Williamsport and started winning World Series games.
"It exploded," Wright said. "It just went crazy."
Messages on the Facebook page have come from all over the United States:
"With Billings home-town pride, watching from Southern MO. Go Big Sky guys!" wrote Courtney Clark.
"Good luck Big Sky! Native Montanans are rooting for you all around the world!!!" Jo Palin said.
"The islands are behind you!!! And watching you!" Steve Anderson penned.
Compounding that, at the suggestion of another Big Sky fan, more and more people are changing their Facebook photos to the Big Sky logo.
"One guy posted a video clip about he thinks they're gonna win," Wright said. "Another one has ‘Kieckbusch for president.' "
Red-headed Connor Kieckbusch, 12, at 4 feet, 8 inches and 74 pounds, is one of the smallest players in the World Series. The Big Sky second baseman and right fielder has won lots of fans for his scrappy style of play.
Many of the posts compliment the boys on their style of play, Wright said.
"They say things about the poise they have, how incredible they are at handling the stress," he said. "One said that even though Sean Jones, in the last inning (of the California game) was struggling, he didn't crack."
Besides the number of fans and the logos-for-photos, Wright sees how interest in the Big Sky game has grown, especially after Wednesday's game against the Ocean View Little League team from Huntington Beach, Calif.
"Every one of my friends after the game had a status about Billings Big Sky League," he said. "Every one of them is watching Big Sky Little League and rooting for them."
He's been watching the skyrocketing popularity of the Big Sky page with growing amazement.
"I'd be in there, and within 10 minutes, I'd have 40 or 50 more likes," he said.
Wright is tickled about the support he sees rolling in for the Big Sky All-Stars. He's also hoping it will spawn another positive effect.
"When you get a hometown team doing this well, I think it's going to be great for baseball," he said. "I think there will be a sharp curve up in the number of kids who want to play."