World Series success lingers
By TONY WHITE
GRAFTON baseball star James Linger has returned from the Junior World Baseball Series in Monterrey, Mexico, proudly sporting a bronze medal, a lifetime experience and a lucky escape from a massive swarm of bees.
The 14-year-old Year 9 McAuley Catholic College student was the youngest member of the Australian Under-17 team that finished a tremendous third behind baseball giants Cuba and the United States.
Australia beat Japan by 10 runs in the play-off for third and fourth, Linger taking the final catch of the game and batting well throughout to help the young Aussies score one of the country's best ever results in the 11-nation World Baseball Series.
"Australia were also the only team that led Cuba during the tournament," Linger's father and coach, Mark, said.
"James batted extremely well, especially for the youngest member in the team."
James' parents, Mark and Madeleine, elder brother Matthew and sister Kathryn accompanied him to the World Series.
"It was a chance of a lifetime to watch our son represent Australia," Mark said.
Unfortunately the Lingers and 5000 spectators were involved a bizarre incident during the preliminary rounds when a swarm of bees converged on the outdoor stadium in Monterrey.
"A huge swarm of bees started attacking the crowd," Mark said.
"Everyone stood and started screaming.
"They turned and ran towards our end trying to escape the swarm. There were people being stung everywhere. People were running all over the place, it was madness.
"A number of the Australian group we were sitting with got stung, fortunately none of the team (were stung), but some of the team's coaches were stung.
"I got bitten at least five times and I can tell you it's painful, like nothing that has ever happened to me in Australia.
"People, including us, were running for two and three blocks trying to get away from the swarm but the bees kept attacking everyone.
"It was very scary, there was mass panic. I've never experienced anything like it."
Mark said it was also a real eye-opener for the family visiting a third world country and experiencing some incredible scenes.
Several of Linger's teammates were picked up by American League franchises.
"About four or five of James' teammates signed professional contracts to play in America," Mark said.
"One of the boys was paid close to $500,000. That's big money."
James' performance in the World Series ? "the coaching staff were very impressed with the way he handled the pressure," Mark said ? should stand him in good stead for the future.
"He had a great time. It was a huge learning experience in both sport and life," Mark added.