Jason Burke of Scranton, Pa., takes a picture of himself with Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond player Cam Beckwith, 11, as they walk into the Little League World Series complex on Friday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team sat down to dinner one night recently and Mason Amergian did not like what he saw on his plate.

So his dad Mike, an assistant coach, turned to one of the team hosts, Phil Sunderland, and asked if there was anything he could do.

Minutes later, Sunderland returned with a food-filled bag from a nearby McDonald’s.

This is what the team hosts – or as they are also known to many, team uncles – do for the 20 teams that are participating in the Little League World Series.

They keep teams on schedule, make sure laundry is being done, pick up drinks or snacks and help transport the players around the sprawling complex.

“They have been instrumental in our day-to-day activities, just getting us where we need to be,” said Gray-NG Manager Brad Shelley. “We were overwhelmed when we arrived and realized what the schedule was. And they’ve helped us navigate every step of the way. They’ve been phenomenal not just for us coaches but the kids too.”


Each team is assigned two team hosts, volunteers who give up two weeks each August to help the players and coaches through what can be a stressful time.

Jamie Foster, in his sixth year as a team host, and Sunderland, in his third, are with Gray-NG. They don’t stay in the dormitories with the team, but are always a phone call or text message away.

“They get us everything we need,” said Mike Amergian. “And the insight they offer, not just on the complex but off the complex, is invaluable.”

Jamie Foster is one of two volunteer hosts for the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond team at the Little League World Series, helping the boys stay on task, making accommodations for their needs and communicating with their parents and coaches. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Foster, 53, lives just 15 minutes away in Montoursville. He is a former youth softball coach (and high school assistant coach) and was looking for a way to help after his daughters finished playing in high school.

“I’ve always been about youth and trying to be a mentor,” said Foster  as he waited for the Gray-NG team to finish hitting in the batting cages Friday. “But you can learn from these kids and coaches just as much as they can learn form you.

“You try to carry yourself as a good person who cares about youth. I’m a big advocate of teamwork, of picking your head up, even when you have a bad day.”


Little League Baseball uses hundreds of volunteers during the World Series. The team hosts are a coveted position, often with a long list of names wanting to join.

Each spring, the 40 team hosts come together and gather around a bucket, filled with balls that have the names of the 20 regions that will play in the next Little League World Series. Then, according to combined seniority, the groups pull out a ball with the name of the team they will be assigned to.

Zac Feehan Jr, 12, of Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond climbs onto a golf cart after the team took batting practice on Friday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

They will greet the team once it arrives at the complex, where the job really begins.

“They are a phenomenal support system for every team,” said Shelley. “They ask the coaches what they want. There wasn’t any soda at the dorm, so they grabbed us soda, Gatorade, water, snacks. They got Sharpies for the kids to sign autographs.”

When the coaches asked for new pillows, they had them the next morning.

Foster said the biggest thing the team hosts do is make sure the teams stay on schedule. They have a lot to do. There’s practices, media interviews, meals, laundry, etc.


“We keep them on task for their schedule,” said Foster. “Getting them to breakfast, lunch, dinner. We assist with getting practice field schedules. We get them on task for the games. We make sure they’re doing their laundry. We try to accommodate any special needs. If a parent needs to reach a player, or bring medicine, we try to work with them.

“We’re here to take pressure off the coaches. And we tell the players, we want to be as much of their memory as anything here.”

And Foster said he tries to make sure each player on the team gets a chance to be part of a media event.

Shelley said the team hosts go out of the way to make their players feel comfortable.

“They joke with them, get to know them,” he said. “These kids trust them. They are there to help the kids in every step of way, no matter what it is.

“It’s a phenomenal support system for every team.”


Foster, who uses two weeks of vacation time from his job as a sales consultant for a local company that sells promotional products, each year to do this wouldn’t be anywhere else.

“This,” he said, “was one of my bucket list things.”

GRAY-NG’S OPPONENT on Saturday, a team from Media, Pennsylvania, is making its first Little League World Series appearance. It’s coming off a 2-1 loss to Needville, Texas, on Wednesday. Media had three hits in the game and its pitchers struck out 11 batters.

Like Gray-NG, Media was undefeated entering the LLWS, winning its first 14 postseason games and outscoring its opponents 123-26. It won the Mid-Atlantic title with a 2-0 seven-inning win over a team from Washington, D.C.

Media last won a state championship in 1957 and was the state runner-up in 2009.

Media is the 36th representative from Pennsylvania to compete in the LLWS.


SHOULD GRAY-NG lose on Saturday, the team could decide to hang around here for a bit and play one more game.

According to Chris Downs, the director of constituent communications for Little League International, said each team that participates in the LLWS is guaranteed three games, if it wants. This is a double-elimination tournament, so if a team loses twice, it is eliminated from contention for the world championship.

But it can request to play what is called a “friendly” against one of the other teams that have been eliminated from competition. Those games would be played at one of the local Little League fields, not at either Lamade Stadium or Volunteer Stadium.

Downs said many teams leave after losing their second game because school is starting. International teams, he said, tend to stay for the whole two weeks.

“It’s completely a team decision,” he said.

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