The pictures. Look at the pictures.
This time, the pictures truly did tell the story.
They told a story of pure, unadulterated joy.
For almost the entire month of August, the Big Sky All-Stars Little League team had our full attention.
The “Boys from Billings,” as they were affectionately called, were not a city-wide story, but a state-wide story, headlining almost every newspaper and television newscast around our large state. Sports bars, restaurants and universities showing the games were filled to capacity during their run through the Little League World Series.
Even those who now live other places followed their hometown and home state Little League team with pride.
For a month, the success of the Big Sky Little League team was bigger than the annual Cat-Griz football game.
This team unified sports fans of all ages, not divided.
When Ben Askelson belted the game-winning home run against Huntington Beach, Calif., in the bottom of the seventh inning, we all cheered. And we were still talking about it the next day.
Every child who plays sports dreams about being in that situation.
In Williamsport, Pa., the players from Big Sky were living the dream every day.
What was it about these boys that made us smile?
Maybe it was because they took us back to a more innocent time.
A time when we tossed our baseball mitt on the handlebar of our bike and rode to the local field to play. A time when the weather was nice and the post-game ice cream always tasted best after a win.
A time when you could be silly in the dugout and not have it show up on YouTube.
These were not overly-muscled freaks of nature fighting over a billion dollars, there were no scholarships at stake.
They played baseball because they liked playing baseball.
From our homes, from our work, from wherever we watched, we learned about pitch counts and tracked the pitchers. We marveled at their poise under the brightest of lights. We celebrated every hit and cringed at every strikeout.
Adults with children understood the parents’ devotion. This was something special, no matter what the cost.
We were watching history.
And when they lost, we hurt a little too.
What was it about the Big Sky Little League team that made this story so special?
Why did a bunch of young boys capture our hearts and become the sports story of the year? Or maybe the biggest in Billings history?
They were kids playing a kids’ game.
And in turn, we got to be the same.