The Southern Nevada Blue Sox were already in the air by the time Clark County officials tried to contact the team.
They wanted to let the team know that when it touched down at McCarran International Airport on Wednesday, throngs of parents, fans and media would be there to greet the American Legion World Series baseball champions. Then a county commissioner would give each member of the team a key to the Las Vegas Strip and declare Wednesday “Southern Nevada Blue Sox Day.”
So when they landed, the were surprised to see that’s just what happened.
“It shows how much support we have in this city and how much people care for us and makes it feel that much better that we won,” third baseman Jesse Fonteboa said. “To be No. 1 in the country is a really big deal.”
The Blue Sox, comprised of players from Basic High School in Henderson, won a tournament that began with about 4,600 teams from across the nation. They rolled through state and regional tournaments and did not hit a speed bump until the first day of the World Series round. They lost 9-1 to Creighton Prep (Nebraska), then got revenge by beating Creighton 2-1 Tuesday in the championship game in Shelby, North Carolina.
One day after they were crowned champions, Blue Sox players were still in shock.
“I’m still having flashbacks to the dog pile in my head,” said outfielder JJ Smith while clutching first base from the title game. “It feels amazing knowing that we are in the best competition in national history and we won the whole thing.”
After fighting through the mob of people greeting them coming down the escalator out of the gate, Blue Sox coaches and players worked their way to a podium where Jim Gibson, county commissioner and former Henderson mayor, gave coach Scott Baker a proclamation making “Southern Nevada Blue Sox Day” official and presented the team with its keys.
Gibson is a Basic alumnus and former baseball player.
“It was so exciting to see the result that we couldn’t let this go,” Gibson said of organizing the event. “Baseball has arrived in Southern Nevada, and this is the best of the best.”