Though the Arabian American Little
Leaguers traveled across the Atlantic to be in
Williamsport, these ballplayers from Dhahran,
Saudi Arabia could still call America home.
By Allie Weinberger
They traveled 6,683 miles just to come home.
The Arabian American Little League All-Stars
from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, return to South
Williamsport in 2005, representing the
Transatlantic Region for the sixth straight
year. The Transatlantic All-Stars will take the
field Saturday vs. the Asia Region champions
from Chiba City, Japan, in their Little League
Baseball World Series pool play game, with the
hope of taking their team over the hump and
advancing beyond pool play for the first time
What makes this group so special?
All 13 players are American citizens. These
Arabian youngsters may have traveled across an
ocean to get to the grassroots of America’s
pasttime, but they didn’t have to go very far in
their hearts and minds.
Speaking to the Saudi standouts, you would have
a hard time distinguishing these boys from the
Maine, California or Pennsylvania players. And
manager Tommy Bumstead’s southern accent
certainly doesn’t convince you that he and his
players live, literally, an ocean away. The
Atlantic Ocean, to be exact.
In fact, each of these players is an American
citizen, but that doesn’t mean they are here
representing the United States. It is Saudi
Arabia that this team so proudly represents at
this year’s Little League World Series.
So let’s get this straight. Sixteen Americans
traveled thousands of miles to the Little League
Baseball World Series to represent Saudi Arabia?
“We’re representing our league, that’s the key,”
manager Tommy Bumstead said with a thick Texas
drawl. “We’re here representing them, and we’re
just happy to be here in Williamsport. This is
the epitome of Little League Baseball.”
The Little League World Series is the ultimate
symbol of youth sports. Through 2004, 492 teams
from across the world, including a whopping
6,964 athletes, have competed in Williamsport.
In 58 years of Little League World Series play,
only one hurler, 1957’s Angel Macias (Monterrey,
Mexico), has ever thrown a perfect game.
Now these Saudis want a crack at making history.
In its 12th Series appearance, the Arabian
American Little League team is still trying to
advance out of pool play and into semifinal
round. But, the team’s 8-0 romp through the
regional tournament could be an indication that
this team is ready.
These ballplayers have dominated regional play
in the past. Last year, this team scored 113
runs in eight games to win the right to go to
Williamsport, a trip that lasted just three
Still, this year may be different.
“This team’s been a lot stronger than teams in
the past I think,” said returning centerfielder
Ryan Bumstead. “I think we’re gonna make it.”
“Yeah, definitely,” the other three returnees –
second baseman Kyle Al-Sughaiyer, pitcher Alex
Robinett and shortstop Matt Timoney - chimed in.
After a 1-2 record in pool play of the 2004
Little League Baseball World Series, Bumstead,
doubling as both manager and dad, said the
team’s main focus would be improving its
And it shows.
Last year, the Saudi boys hit a combined .190
(15-for-79) as a team over three games. In the
Transatlantic regional tournament held in
Vilseck, Germany, the Arabian American Little
League outscored its opponents, 84-2.
Not only did they shut out each opponent through
the first seven games of regional action, they
won all but two of their eight games by at least
But Saudi Arabia’s tournament shutout did
finally end – they gave up a pair in the team’s
13-2 rout of Germany in the final.
“I think this is the best team ever,” said
Timoney. “[We have] more depth at every position
[and] much better hitting.”
Ryan Bumstead agreed. “We have great pitching
[and] we have great hitting,” he added.
“I agree with what they’re saying,” said the
elder Bumstead. “I think that the key to this
team is that we have strong pitching and a good
defense, and that combination makes it very
tough to score against. We went into regionals,
as the boys said, confident that we had a good
team. [We] felt that if we played up to our
potential that we should be coming back.”
Some of these boys have been playing baseball
and traveling to tournaments across the world
together since they were eight years old,
according to their manager.
That shows, too.
They are a team in every sense of the word. They
hit together, they field together and sometimes
they even speak together.
Like a quartet of bona fide mindreaders, the
World Series veterans agreed in chorus, “We play
as a team.”
These Little Leaguers have endured months of
hard training, and though they may have improved
their hitting, pitching and fielding, the team’s
manager doesn’t deny the advantage of having
four boys who have been to Williamsport before.
“I don’t think the pressure of the games will
have as dramatic of an effect on this team as it
has in the past. Having four returnees is a big
key,” Bumstead said. “I know that they will be
able to give some confidence to the rest of the
players, and the rest of the players are already
But this team knows that confidence won’t carry
them through pool play.
“I think [ours is] a good balance – we have
strong pitching, we have a good defense,”
continued Bumstead. “I believe the combination
of the two is our strength.”
What Saudi Arabia’s efforts may come down to,
though, is an attempt to defy and write their on
Little League World Series history.
“The three other teams in our bracket (Latin
America, Asia and the Caribbean) … probably
account for about 90 percent of the World Series
titles over the last 30 years,” said the eldest
This ballpark statement is eerily accurate.
Of the past 30 World Series champions, only
eight are from outside these three regions.
That’s a 73 percent success rate for Latin
America, Asia and the Caribbean. So who is their
main competition in 2005?
“All of ‘em,” the manager, coaches and players
rang out, again in chorus.
And though the team is realistic about its
competition, it may just prove to be the
all-elusive bracketbusters of the 2005 Little
League World Series.
“All three of them are worthy opponents,” added
manager Bumstead. “But you know, if you wanna
win this, you gotta beat the best.”
© 2005, Little League Baseball
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