Chance Meeting Brings Back Fond Little League Memories
Little League has touched millions of lives and made millions more memories in its 70 years, but for Erik Jensen of Fox Island, Wash., and Jeff Washburn from Seattle, their recent chance reunion was distinctly unique.
Growing up in Brussels, Belgium, the son of lumber company executive, Mr. Jensen, 52, first played organized baseball in 1966 as a member of the Little League Association of Brussels. Like most children of U.S. citizens working abroad, both he, and Mr. Washburn, participated on a Little League team comprised mostly of U.S. children.
Mr. Washburn was a teammate of Mr. Jensen’s on the league’s Major Division Red Sox team that won the regular season championship in 1969.
Earlier this month, on Valentine’s Day, Mr. Jensen and Mr. Washburn experienced a remarkable chance reunion.
While enjoying oysters at a market in Seattle, Mr. Jensen struck up a conversation with a fellow patron. As fate would have it, both men realized who the other was and the reminiscing began.
“What were the odds,” Mr. Jensen, who lived in Brussels from 1965-75, said. “Almost 40 years later and 10,000 miles away from where we first met, we bump into one another in one of the largest cities in America.
“We were sitting back-to-back at this oyster bar in downtown Seattle and struck up a conversation and we quickly discovered we played on the same Little League team,” Mr. Jensen said. “As soon as I said my name, Jeff remembered me as being the catcher for our team. When he said his name I knew he was our second baseman.”
The men spent about 90 minutes sharing stories, exchanged phone numbers and pledged to stay in contact in the future.
The discussion about their Little League days in Brussels, brought the impact of their experiences full circle as each told the other of their time as a Little League volunteer in their children’s home leagues.
“Everyone I have told has been amazed with the coincidence,” Mr. Jensen said. “Meeting up with Jeff was the first time I have talked to anyone from my Little League team since 1975, but those memories remain very clear for me.
“I spent 10 years in Brussels playing baseball,” Mr. Jensen said. “Jeff and I knew many of the same people and we had mutual friends.”
Both men returned to Little League to support their children’s experience. Mr. Jensen was a coach with his son’s Little League team in Gig Harbor, Wash., and Mr. Washburn had three boys who played Little League.
“I’d say Jeff and I both got our kids involved in Little League because we enjoyed playing Little League when we were kids,” Mr. Jensen said.
Mr. Jensen works for the Washington State Superior Court, while Mr. Washburn is an engineer in the aerospace industry.
Little League often serves as a reminder of how small the world is. Recently, Erik Jensen of Fox Island, Wash., and Jeff Washburn from Seattle, experienced a reunion that was distinctly unique. As children, both played Little League Baseball on the same team in Brussels, Belgium. Mr. Jensen, shown in this 1969 photo, was the catcher, and Mr. Washburn is the second player from the right in the back row. Earlier this year, the two former players, now in their 50s, had a chance meeting in the Seattle area.