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Freshman players get close look at wild Anaheim

By By Jeff Bryd / staff writer
Oct. 31, 2002
Rally monkey. Red batons clapping. A raucous, Anaheim Angels crowd.
Television can't do it justice. For a group of Mississippi baseball players, there was nothing quite like being there.
By virtue of winning the American Legion World Series championship, the team from West Point, was honored with an all-expense paid trip to Anaheim, Calif., for the first two games of the Major League World Series between Anaheim and the San Francisco Giants.
The West Point team, coached by Frank Portera, has five players who are enrolled at area schools. Brandon McGarrity is now a University of West Alabama freshman. Four others David Nanney, Tyler Bratton, Dustin Snyder and Rod Williams are all at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Portera, who helped direct the West Point American Legion squad to the World Series title, said the trip to California to the MLB World Series was nearly as much fun as winning the championship.
Portera is a big supporter of American Legion Baseball. The program, for 15-to-18-year-old players, not only provides young players top flight competition, but it also allows nice rewards like a trip to the Major League World Series.
McGarrity said its an experience he'll never forget.
The noise level created by the Angel fans, also made a lasting impression.
Yet one of the more lasting memories of the game was the monstrous, 487-foot home run Barry Bonds hit off Percival in the ninth inning to account for the final score of 11-10.
West Point's road to Anaheim was paved by first winning its area district in northeast Mississippi. They then won the state tournament, a regional tournament in Chicago, Ill., and then on to the World Series in Danville, Va.
In the championship game, West Point beat Excelsior, Minn., 4-0. McGarrity had his best game of the post-season accounting for all four runs. The team finished with a 47-13 record.
McGarrity says the experience will help make him a better player.
Portera said the four players now with Bill Baldner at EMCC will make the Lions better.