SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Lawrence Legion inspired an entire state
by Kyle Guadette, Eagle Tribune
Julio “Bill Belichick” Ramos was already looking ahead to the 2020 season when asked to reflect on the historic run his Lawrence Legion team went on this summer.
Well, Julio, the calendar (at least for one more day) hasn’t changed yet. And we want to take one last look back and honor your team’s journey as our 2019 Story of the Year.
The tears. The triumphs. The heartbreaking defeats. The unifying of a city.
The summer will be one that Ramos, or anyone involved with the team, won’t ever forget.
And in case you need a brief refresher, Lawrence — after winning the state championship — was just five outs away from an expense-paid trip to Shelby, North Carolina and the American Legion World Series before a talented team from Shrewsbury came back to win the Northeast Regional final.
“It was just an amazing year,” said Ramos. “A lot of new friendships, a lot of memories. I think what stood out was the unity of the team. Once we won the state championship, the support from the city was just amazing. People thought that we were for real at that point. They felt like ‘okay this team is trying to do something special.’
“And we did.”
Of course, baseball is only a fraction of what makes this story so special.
Ramos paid an estimated $6,000 out of pocket to revive a dead Legion team — without a sponsor — two years ago, and even picked up driving for Uber to pay umpires, just to give kids in such a baseball-rich city an opportunity to play during the summer. During their state championship-winning run, the team carpooled to their games in a van Ramos borrowed from his church.