Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012
Oakland A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes sent a check earlier this week to help out the West champions from Petaluma, Calif., Little League.
“We won on Saturday, got home Sunday, and between Monday and Wednesday, all this money came in,” West manager Eric Smith said. Smith is the father of pitcher Bradley Smith. “Jonny Gomes has been a huge supporter of us.”
Gomes, who grew up in Petaluma, has been a great supporter and promoter of this team. From watching their games to helping their families get out to South Williamsport to watch their kids play, he has played a big role in this team’s success.
“Most of the families have been borrowing money or taking out loans to get here. This is a one-time kind of thing. We had to stretch a little to get here, but this is our Christmas,” Andrew Paretti, father of center fielder Austin Paretti, said Gomes, having played on the Petaluma Little League team in his youth, knows how hard it is to make it to the Little League World Series and likes to help out the team whenever he can. He raised money as well as gave some of his own to help defer the cost of the parents’ trip to South Williamsport.
“It was a rumor more than anything,” Paretti said. “I heard something about it on the radio."Most of the parents didn't know Gomes was helping out until just a few days ago.
“Gomes knew if his team made it to South Williamsport when he played, his family wouldn’t have been able to afford it. That’s why he didn’t want any family not to be able to go because someone didn’t have enough money,” Paretti said.While Gomes' funding helped send many to see the Little League World Series, others did have to take out loans in order to come.
“I took a loan out and had to leave some of my kids home because I wasn’t sure if we’d all make it,” Wayne Douglas said. Douglas is the father of right fielder Logan Douglas.
The trip to Williamsport is approximately $2,500 per person. There are 13 boys on the team, which makes about 26 parents. Do the math and that’s $65,000 for a team to come over.
Some of the parents couldn’t get off work to come here and had to get creative.
“I’m actually working while I’m here,” Paretti said. “I just got done with a two hour conference call before I came here.”
Paretti and the rest of the Petaluma team and their families headed to the Little League Museum on Friday afternoon on their day off.
Paretti runs sales at a telecommunications company and is working remotely while he’s here in South Williamsport.
“If my job wasn’t so flexible I wouldn’t be here right now,” Douglas said. Douglas works for the Kval Machinery Company. “My job has been very flexible and supportive of the team. They had the game on at work when the team played their first game here in Williamsport.”
Gomes is not only a big supporter of Petaluma Little League, but also for the surrounding community.
“He holds a 'Cure for Cancer' camp every year,” Paretti said. "Camp for a Cure" is run every year in Petaluma and all the benefits go to the American Cancer Society and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Gomes’ brother, Joey, has a batting cage that he lets the kids use. Jonny Gomes helps out the other local Little League programs as well, but keeps a close eye on Petaluma.
“His manager, Bob Melvin, said he keeps one eye on his game and one and a half on ours. He really cares about this team,” Smith said.
“I actually sat next to his wife in the stands one day,” Paretti said. “He’s all for the kids.”
Despite being a professional athlete, Gomes doesn't forget where he was from and keeps in contact with Petaluma.
“He helps us out financially and with moral support as he keeps in touch with us,” Smith said.And the team is more than thankful.
“I think it was very generous what he did. He’s always been super generous,” Paretti said.
With his generosity, the families are getting to see a different part of the country. The Paretti family, coming from California, had never been to a place quite like Pennsylvania.
“We’re loving it here. First thing I said when I got here was ‘look at all this greenery,’” Paretti said.
Gomes really cares about this team as you can tell. He even makes sure the team knows he’s thinking of them.
“Melvin contacted me to tell the boys that he wishes them good luck,” Smith said. “He just promotes the good order of this team.”
Be on the lookout for this Petaluma team as they play in the Little League World Series. They play next on Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Southeast champs from Goodlettsville, Tenn.