Ian Anderson remembers standing in the batter's box of a Bedford, Va., field with a Dixie Youth Minors World Series on the line.
Ten years later, the details haven't escaped him. They never will, he says.
With a game-winning run on base, Anderson needed a hit to give Hilton Head a victory in the 2001 championship game.
The pitcher started him off with two offspeed pitches. He was fooled by both as the crowd chanted a robotic cheer that he tried to ignore. He expected another curveball on the next pitch, yet he managed to foul off a fastball when it came whizzing by the plate.
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When the pitcher tried to slip another by him, this time he was ready. Anderson laced a two-run single to score Michael Campbell and win the Dixie Youth Minors World Series.
For a player who later went to the University of Kentucky to play football, Anderson still calls it the biggest stage of his life.
"One of those surreal things," he said. "All of us have remembered it for this long. We still talk about it. I still got The Island Packet from the day after we won. I remember the headline."
That stage will relocate to Beaufort this weekend when the Dixie Boys World Series (14-and-under) visits Burton Wells Park. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for Friday evening.
For the host Beaufort team, it may truly present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a phrase Anderson and other past players used to describe their experiences.
But those same former players have some advice for this year's Beaufort squad -- if you're serious about winning, ignore the overwhelming atmosphere and simply play baseball. Easier said than done, says David Tilton, a member of the Beaufort Dixie Boys team that traveled to Seneca in 2009.
Tilton said he recalls being treated like a professional baseball player during the opening ceremonies, adding that the atmosphere was "unlike anything I ever expected." He relayed that information to this year's host team after Beaufort manager Jim Pike asked him to visit a practice.
"The key is getting those jitters out of the way," Tilton said. "... Like I told them, you only get to do this once. You don't want to remember losing because you were nervous. Make the best of this. Most of all, go out and have fun."
Ryan Kelly says his Hilton Head Dixie Youth Majors team took a business-like approach to its trip to Terrell, Texas in 1999.
Kelly, now a minor league pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization, said he and his teammates did their best to treat the World Series like any other tournament rather than a vacation. The approach proved successful, as Hilton Head won all six of its games and brought back the first-place trophy.
"Every team is talented, but the main reason we won had a lot to do with the discipline of our team," Kelly said. "All the other teams were free to go out to the pool and sit in the sun. We were there to win. We had rules, and we came ready to play every night."
"If you treat this like a vacation, that's what you'll get out of it. If you want to win, you have to act like it."