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Vartenisian gets to watch the boys from his adopted hometown — he’s lived in Warner Robins since 1971 — playing for a world championship in his old hometown in Pennsylvania.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s really special to me when I see these youngsters playing in the place where I grew up playing baseball,” Vartenisian said Monday before settling in to watch Warner Robins defeat the Mercer Island, Wash., team on ESPN to win a berth in the U.S. semifinals.
I was paying a return visit to Vartenisian, whom I had interviewed and written about in August of 2007. That was when the Warner Robins Little Leaguers began their first exhilarating flight to the World Series that culminated in their winning the title and the hearts of millions around the planet with the compassion they showed to the Japanese boys they had just bested in the dramatic, extra-inning finale.
Like so many of his neighbors, Vartenisian was swept away by the emotions he felt at the boys’ accomplishments on the field and the sportsmanship they displayed.
“I was so proud of them, and still am,” he said.
And now, he witnesses a chance for history to repeat itself in a place that has so much personal history for him.
Would he have liked to “go home again” and see the World Series played in the birthplace of the Little League?
“Oh boy, that would be something,” he said.
Then, kiddingly (I presume, from the chuckle in his voice), Vartenisian added: “I was hoping the governor would call and offer to take me with him to Williamsport. I could show him around town.”
Gov. Sonny Perdue played on the Warner Robins American Little League team when he was a youngster and attended the 2007 World Series to cheer the home team on.
The last time Vartenisian was in Williamsport was 10 years ago, at what he said was to be the last class reunion for his high school.
“I still have a brother up there,” he said. “I couldn’t drive up there, it would just be too much.
“So I’ll watch them on TV and cheer them on,” he said of the Warner Robins boys who are trying to duplicate, on a much larger scale, what he and his Williamsport teammates accomplished more than a half-century ago.
“Then it wasn’t the biggest thing in town, it was just a little tournament,” he said of his own championship season. “We didn’t realize the impact until much later.”
Vartenisian says the Warner Robins of today reminds him of the Williamsport of his youth. “It’s a great place for youth, for youth sports,” he said of the City by the Base.
And the experience these kids are going through now, “It’s something they will remember all their lives.”
Paul Vartenisian should know. He’s lived it.


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