Čia sukelsiu Virmido ir Sam Griffith, mūsų nepakartojamo bičiulio iš Kalifornijos, dienoraščius (blog’us)
Tiesa, gal ne viską bus lengva suprasti iš Sam blogo, tiems, kas nebuvo ten ar nėra ten vaikų, bet nieko netrinant, keliu viską.
Sam’ o žinutė (atsakymas į mano laišką, kad visi laimingi, saugiai sugryžo namo)
Terrific, thanks for the note and please thank all the parents for sending the kids to our care. They are all terrific, enjoyed every one of them, the parents should be proud of the young men that they are.
Septintasis Sam’o laiškas
Serendipity means a „happy accident“ or „pleasant surprise“; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.
Serendipity in fact does happen and am fortunate that it happens to me with some frequency.
From 2001 when a Lithuanian kid was sliding down the soaked mound in Poland due to not having cleats, talking to my wife that night, and three days later receiving a huge box of new and used cleats that she borrowed, begged and stole here locally. That was the start of the friendship, serendipity.
Today all are there on time and raring to go, hugs of course and the occasional teardrop, but all the hosts and kids behaved, at least in my presence. Mike Reynolds stepped up for me with his truck, filled it to the brim in both the back and the rear seat, he took a Lit with him for carpool lane.
Compared to Saturday it was a breeze, made it to LAX in an hour. I always go the 405 to 105 which keeps me off the streets leading to LAX, turns out to be a good thing as they had the car search set up, and heard from others at the airport that they were delayed an hour plus, serendipity.
Arrive LAX, unload van and truck, tell all the kids to wait for me while I park the van. This goes off without a hitch. Walk into the terminal looking for Aeroflot counter, see a guy in tie etc with a name badge, stop him with the questions. Turns out he is the head guy for Aeroflot LAX, serendipity.
Tell him that I have all these Lits, he works it out so that we get to go in the Business Class line of which no others were in, one very gracious lady checks them all in at one time. The bags are not counted, they are not weighed, there is a God, serendipity.
We get near the end of the process, she asks for the parental letters stating that the kids can fly with a non-parental adult. I had asked VN about this, he told me that is only needed when they leave their country, not when they are returning home. The poor Lit Mom that is traveling with the group is beside me and is now panicked, whispering that the coach has the letters. Go into full spin mode, drop the name of the head guy for Aeroflot etc., the counter gal allows me to sign for them and all is good, serendipity. She seats them all in the same section of the plane, with the Lit parents in an exit row, just in front of all the kids, they may not need the leg room, but they got it and for free, awesome, serendipity.
Walk them from the counter to security, recognize a TSA gal who usually works United, greet her by name. She takes all the Lits in one group thru a side line, no waiting and bypassing a huge horde, they are all thru in less than 15 minutes, serendipity.
The flight left only 35 minutes late, this is early for Aeroflot, you can track it:http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AFL107
in about 17 hours or so they will be home.
While have them all together before we check in, waiting for Lit parents to return their car, one kid who I doubt has said two words to me the whole trip, “sam a question, if I get to return, can I be housed with Zettler family again? They are the best host family”. This set off a firestorm in Lithuanian and English all now telling the attributes of THEIR host family, man some became more than passionate defending you all. Marius killed me with, “I win, we had Bailey, the Mission Viejo Diva”. This stopped all the rest in their tracks, all nodding their heads, Adomas “he has a point, wished she could have been there today, maybe we all would have got a hug”, he is old beyond his years. We did the McDonalds in the Tom Bradley terminal, not sure I believe that they all were starving, but what the heck, why not, no Moms around to tell me not to, serendipity at it’s finest.
They played the game we all love, did Disneyland, some went to the beach, some to a Laker game, some to the Long Beach Grand Prix, some to a trampoline place, cannot remember all that was told to me in the van. They all had the time of their lives, I am sure each will remember it for as long as they live, thank you one and all for making it what it was for them, a grand adventure.
Šeštasis Sam’o laiškas.
Virmidas jau išskubėjo į Lietuvą, kad suspėtų į Pony League.O Deimantė ir Valdas parskris su komanda po poros dienų. Sėkmės jiems pakuojantis lagaminus. Gero skrydžio namo!
For those of you that lost your Lit today, know that their experience here was enriched due to your hospitality and generosity. I cannot make these adventures happen without a lot of help from a lot of folks, so thank you so very much for stepping up. With three females leaving today, VN’s daughters and the coach Jolanta, oh my goodness the crying quotient was out of control. My rules were ignored and abandoned totally. Mrs. Owens and the gorgeous Miss Owens along with Gintare were fully out of control, but as it was explained to me, none of them are baseball people, so my rules are worthless to them.
Nomeda on the drive up from San Diego was unsure about staying in a home by herself with just host parents, especially a softball coach. I had to promise her that I would come get her at any time if things were not good. Of course that call never came, she loved every minute of it. On the ride to LAX she was sitting just behind her Dad, she leaned over the seat and quietly said something to him. He answers in a soft and kind voice, she bursts into tears again. I give him the look, “she misses being in California already and asked when she can come back to Juli’s, I told her that one day maybe she could come back”. Man they get under your skin so quickly, she sniffled the rest of the trip.
The lesson for all the rest of you for Monday, no histrionics, push ups will be done, however without VN to enforce this, I most likely have no hope of enforcement.
The check-in process at Aeroflot was uneventful, VN having to pay $200.00 in over weight and an abundance of bags, but having loaded them into the van, was surprised at this low amount. Their bags can weigh 24 kilos, about 50-52 pounds, believe they are allowed 2.
Enjoy you last day tomorrow with them, see you Monday at Curtis Park, the plan is to leave there around noon, so will be there about 11:45 or so. Have the van and a pick-up truck, plus the Lit parents with their car, so I hope to be good on space. The 405 was a nightmare both ways, have to assume due to the Long Beach Grand Prix, so hoping Monday will be somewhat smoother.
See you Monday,
Penktasis trumpas Sam’o laiškelis
Coto field folks have pulled the plug on today’s game, field is “far to wet”. So no game today.
See a few of you tomorrow at 12:30 for those leaving us tomorrow at Curtis Park parking lot.
See the rest of you Monday at NOON at Curtis Park parking lot.
NO you cannot keep them, they must return to LIT
Atleiskite neparasiau keleta dienu. Dveji pralosimai po viena taska 6:7 ir 3:4 gerokai nuliudino mane. Nesakau kad tai pries silpnas komandas bet mes nezaidem taip kaip galime.
Ypatingai antras varzybas kai pralaimejom 6-7 .Vakar Isvyka i Disneilenda vaikams turejo patikti o dar kiekvienam vokelyje buvo 50USD. Siandien zaideme pries kitos grupes stipriausia komanda . Gerai atrodo . Daugiau kaip puse didesni uz musu didziausius. Susikabinom su jais. Jei ne keletas klaideliu ir neivykdytu sprendimu butume laimeje . Kas pikciausia ir vel vienu tasku 3:4 . Keturios varzybos ir keturi pralosimai vienu tasku. Bet mums reikia butent tokiu varzybu. Tikiuosi kai ateis iskaitines varzybos tai islys i nauda.
Rytoj paskutines draugiskos varzybos 16h . Bet nusimato lietus. Todel neaisku kaip bus.
Ketvirtasis Sam’o laiškas
Holy Cow, 4 games and all of them one run games. Thought Lukas and Marius pitched brilliantly tonight, plus the defense was the best we have seen since they have been with us. The shot that Adomas hit to the fence was I think the longest ball we have seen hit this week by any team. The Ladera team has blown out all the teams they have played, one of their games they were up 15-0 in the second, so for the Lits to keep the game as close and competitive as it was, brilliant.
The weather projections for tomorrow are not good, but if no serious rain, Trabuco Canyon who also lost tonight, have agreed to play at 4 PM. So please have the kids at the fields in Coto de Caza at 3 PM. If you have not been there before, go thru the North gate, Antonio parkway, http://local.yahoo.com/details?id=79905510&stx=coto+sports+park&csz=Trabuco+Canyon+CA
Tell the gate guard that you are going to the ball field, he will give you a pass and if you need directions, he will give them. If raining, I will talk to the Trabuco manager by 2 PM, I will be at SNA picking up the Western Region UIC for this weekends clinic, so will not be able to get a note out, but if you have any doubts, call and I will give you the go or no go.
All of you have been truly stellar, appreciate all of you, your hospitality and generosity to the kids is unparalleled.
Trumpa Sam žinutė
They had a great time at Disney today, just returned from picking them up.
As an aside, may the best group ever to come, they all are so pleasant, well behaved, well mannered etc. their parents should be proud of each of them
Trečiasis Sam’o laiškas
For an 0-3 team, I think they have played well. To lose all three games by only one run, considering how little ball they have played outside this year, amazing. Being 0-3 puts them as team number 4 in their pool bracket. This means that they play at 7PM at BEEBE tomorrow night, Thursday. A good number of them are thrilled with this as it means playing under the lights, a good number of them have never had this experience. Was initially told Gilleran, but it is BEEBE. They will play Ladera Ranch who went undefeated in their bracket. You play the game as you never know, on any given day any team can beat another team, but this will be a tough one. So we will meet at 5PM at Curtis again for BP etc. tomorrow.
I asked the coach what he wanted for Friday assuming or if they lose, he told me he needs to think about it today at Disneyland and will let me know. So as soon as I know, will get the word out to you all.
They were all so very excited to be going to Disney today, the atmosphere in the van was electric. All the kids with the exception of one of Waln and both Zettler kids rode in the van. Waln and Zettler were late this AM, so the penalty was they had to ride with my wife in her car up there. Marius Balantas volunteered for this assignment, we just did not tell the coach that he volunteered. Mrs. Waln blaming Marius for them being late, apparently he likes to linger and savor his breakfast dining experience, or at least this is the story that she is sticking to.
We get to Disneyland, the rules are explained to them all, older ones paired with younger and/or smaller ones, they have to look out for each other. Truly amazes me how well they all get along, not one complaint about this arrangement. Each given a poncho as the rain was coming down, my wife went out yesterday and bought one for each of them. Every kid due to the incredible generosity of Ladera Ranch Little League given $50.00 to spend on whatever it is they wish to spend it on. VN reminded all that something Disney related to take home to Mom would be a good thing, so if a kid returns to Lithuania with nothing for Mom, Mickey Mouse related, this is not on me or VN.
The Jonatis couple and their ten year old son, made the round trip to Yosemite yesterday, had to be over 14 hours in the car, but they were there this AM, maybe not chipper, but there and on time. Am sure Waln and Zettler just cringed. They had rain, snow, sunshine and darkness during their travels yesterday. Loved Yosemite, but not sure they would ever do that kind of driving again, especially with the kind of weather we have today and north of us had yesterday.
See you at around 10:45 PM tonight, if we have a crisis of any kind and will be later than that, will call one of you that will spread the word in the parking lot at Curtis on the status
Tony Mazeika nuotraukos
Antrasis Sam laiškas
The first Lit game is in the books, a 3-2 loss against Cook’s Tijeras Creek squad. They gave up the three in the first. Full seven innings in 1:57 with Burnap PL, Reynolds U1 and Conboy U3. all seemed to have a great time including the blue crew.
Lukas Pupininkas starting pitcher and threw four innings of really good ball. He has a wicked and I mean wicked curve. He was the littlest kid on the team in past visits, he is still no giant, but great to see him grow and be an integral part of the team and staff. Marius Balandis came in and finished the game, held them of course scoreless, throws some serious heat. Marius is my wife’s favorite Lit. He first came here when 9 years old, he was not a roller coaster kid back then and spent the whole day at Disney with Debs waiting for the others to come off the rides, they have been pals ever since.
Nomeda Neverauskaite played F4, had a brilliant play, one hopper that she dived for, knocked it down, found and threw out BR at first from her knees, awesome play. Her host parents beyond beaming, telling other folks in the stands, “that’s our kid”.
Little Kantas Kaukenas, the kid with the broken nose did play, so he will not have delicate flower status. At least for today he did not, the kid is a gamer, very cool that he played today.
Kids today looking thru the fence often, cannot figure out what they are seeing or looking for. Turns out they are looking for one host families 16 year old daughter which they all saw and the pickup point yesterday. Marius and Viktoras Ratkevicius were the winners of this lottery for a host family. Will talk to her Dad and see if the kids can at some point have this celebrity sighting at a game.
Canty who has two boys, Lukas Pupininkas and Augustas Driukas gets up way early. Cooks eggs, sausages, makes breakfast burritos etc. This massive spread of food for the two boys, assume he also feeds his own kids. Both Lits walk in the kitchen, see enough food to feed an Army. One of them looks up, see the whole line up of cereal boxes, “we have Lucky Charms, please”. Canty I hear took the food to four different neighbor’s houses just so it all would not go to waste. The boys loved the cereal, Canty will be getting that much needed beauty sleep in the future days.
The only issue of the day. You all know my train leaves the station on time, every time if not early. Two kids are 25 minutes late, ten push ups for every minute late, equates to 250 push ups. Coach all over me with where are the kids, both lefties, leaving voice mails for host Dad. Who was the scumbag/low life/dirtbag host parent that caused this mammoth angst, of course it was Cook. Since he played them today, convinced he took them out drinking last night, of course being Lit, even if under age, they could and most likely did drink Cook under the table.
All including the Seattle pitcher need to cut this kid a break. First he is Cuban and fresh off the boat, secondly he plays in Oakland, the place and the ballpark are an armpit. Let him enjoy would could be the only highlight of his career, especially if he is stuck in Oakland for any length of time. Of course if he proves to be any good, Beane will trade him for a has been.
Pirmasis Sam laiškas
Thanks for all being there on time or close to it, it was a Chinese fire drill at best, with the coach changing what I had for housing in the parking lot.
I know who Wilsons, Owens and Presnalls have, but please drop me a note back with which kids you have so I can update the spreadsheet. The only full address I have including zip code is Walns, so please besides the kids, need your full address. The Mom’s in Lit want this info for I assume thank you notes etc. If you have Skype, if you could make your kid Skype home once this week would be appreciated. Next time I am there, do not want to be abused by a Mom as a kid did not touch base with home. If no Skype, an email or text home would be nice.
Tomorrow, please have them at Beebe Park by 8:30 AM, game is at 10:00 AM and if past years games are any indication, with the wood bat, 2 hours will be about all the game lasts. Will be there for the start, but I have a speaking engagement at the baseball expo in Anaheim and will leave Beebe at 11 AM, but if you need a kid picked up or whatever, call my cell, my wife who rocks, will help out anyone that needs it.
They are all yours on Sunday. Whatever you do on a Sunday or on Easter or whatever, again part of this experience for them is a cultural learning gig, so they do what you do. Monday the game is at 4 PM, will get word out where and when the coach wants the kids Monday.
The below sent to a few Lits and the umpires that I correspond with regularly
Ez and I made the trek to SD to pick up the Lits. One host Mom late, she shows, all the other host Moms, “OH you are in trouble, Sammy is here and you are late”. The women drops and busts out 10 push ups like nobody’s business, very impressive. This is not my rule, started years ago when kids were late to a meeting spot, coach had them drop and give 10. Host Mom who was the driver aghast that she caused “her” kids to have to do this. Guess the word has spread, it is not an urban myth, but a reality now. Tears galore by the host Mom’s, this is baseball related, there is no crying in baseball, they were out of control. SD Mom’s are emotionally a mess I gather, the Moms here know better, the day they all leave, Sammy does not see tears.
Fill both the front and back of EZ’s truck with bags, the Lit head coach and EZ in his truck. I am driving a 15 passenger van, so with 15 kids plus me, this is 16 no matter how you do the math. We are a seat belt short, SD Mom’s are anal about this, plead with a couple of them not to call the CHP. A couple of the kids are so small that could double buckle if needed, we hit the road. The radio immediately goes to some Euro Pop station, only disappointment was the radio goes no higher than volume setting 28. Besides Euro Pop we have rap re-mix. The classic line in one song that we heard three times on the 2 hour trip up, “You want a lady on the street, but a skank in the bedroom”. Kids have the song down pat, know all the words, all 15 plus me on the third time thru, singing this at the top of our lungs, van was a rockin. What a hoot, every one of the kids is awesome, so polite and good with each other. The littlest guy on the team, broke his nose in SD, thrown ball by a teammate during warm-ups, next day back in the line up, gets drilled with a pitch. Coach not sure he will play this week, besides the injury, he I gather is more than spooked. Not giving him delicate flower status yet, we will see how the week progresses.
They call out yellow cars/trucks and all put their hand in the air with index finger raised and touch the roof of the van, not sure what it is all about, but I called two before they did and got props. Taught them punch buggie, a couple of them maybe be bruised, who knew that many Volkswagen bugs are still on the road. A yellow bug became a double punch, somehow I get credit for this, in truth, think I hit the kid sitting next to me twice on this one in error, so it became the rule, thankfully we only saw the one yellow bug.