1979 GPWS team advanced to Williamsport
One of only seven Michigan teams to advance to Little League World Series since 1947
In 1979 the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Nationals advanced to Williamsport after traveling 2,000 miles throughout the Midwest and winning ten straight games. At the time the Nationals were only the third team from Michigan to qualify for the Little League World Series.
Little League tournament play and the road to the Little League World Series was a lot different in 1979 than it is today. Now there’s pool play, ESPN and ultimately 16 teams make it Williamsport. In 1979 only four U.S. teams made it to Williamsport. There was no double elimination or pool play. It was single elimination, if you lost one game you were done.
Managed by Bob Rini and coached by Bud Engel and Bill Lindeman, the Nationals began with District 6 play in Harper Woods in late July and emerged as champions over 18 area teams. The District Tournament victories were on the strength of excellent pitching by Dave Waldeck, Mark Bilkovic and Larry Baetens. Waldeck also belted five home runs.
The team went on to beat Richmond, District 7 champions in the sectional final. Waldeck pitched a great game and belted two home runs. The sectional victory entitled the team to enter the State Tournament in Gladstone, Michigan in August.
The Road to Williamsport
District and Sectional Tournament – Harper Woods
GPWS Nationals 6, L’Anse Cruese 3
GPWS Nationals 4, Shelby-Utica 3
GPWS Nationals 6, Harper Woods 4
GPWS Nationals 6, GP Farms-City 3
GPWS Nationals 5, Richmond 1
State Championship – Gladstone
GPWS Nationals 4, Grand Rapids Pinery Park 0
GPWS Nationals 8, Birmingham East 7
Division Championship – Kalamazoo
GPWS Nationals 7, Anderson, In. 2
Central Region Championship – Lemars, Iowa
GPWS Nationals 7, Anderson, In. 2
GPWS Nationals 6, Carthage, Mo. 2
Little League World Series – Williamsport, Pa.
Campbell, Ca. 8, GPWS Nationals 5
The Nationals opened the State tournament with a victory against Grand Rapids Pinery Park. Dave Waldeck pitch a no hitter and stuck out 16 hitters. In the State Championship, Birmingham East had the team on the ropes 7-5 in the final inning. The Nationals came back and scored three runs in the final inning. Brian Meulebrouck singled home Larry Baetens to give the Nationals their second straight Michigan State Championship.
After the State Tournament the team traveled to Kalamazoo to face Indiana State Champion in the Divisional Tournament. The Nationals beat Anderson, Indiana 7-2 offering a berth into the Central Region tournament in Lemars, Iowa.
1979 Williamsport Roster
Manager: Bob Rini
Coaches: Bud Engel, Bill Lineman
On August 16 the Nationals played their opening game against Elgin, Illinois. The Elgin team was averaging 10 runs per game. The Nationals stopped that in short order winning 2-0 as Dave Waldeck won his 6th tournament game by pitching a one hitter.
The Central Region Championship game was against the Carthage, Missouri. The score was tied 2-2 when the Nationals erupted for four runs in the fifth inning and went on to win 6-2.
After ten tournament victories and 2,000 miles of travel the Nationals moved on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Four U.S. Regional Champions as well as four International Champions participated in the 1979 World Series which began on August 21.
The Nationals met U.S. West Region Champion, Campbell, California in the first round and lost 8-5. Campbell had an early 4-0 lead before the Nationals went ahead 5-4. Campbell scored
Michigan Little League World Series Qualifiers
1955 – Hamtramck Michigan
1956 – Hamtramck Michigan (champion)
1957 – Escanaba, Michigan
1959 – Hamtramck, Michigan
1973 – Birmingham, Michigan
1979 – Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores, Michigan
1982 – Wyoming, Michigan
1990 – Brooklyn, Michigan
1998 – Jenison, Michigan