Little Leaguers celebrate ‘miracle moment’ with 80-year-old

HARLINGEN — “Graham Kersten gets the first run to second and he’s safe!” says the announcer as the umpire swings his arms to the sides.

The crowd cheers 12-year-old Graham’s arrival at second base during the Fourth Little League World Series. But Graham isn’t 12 anymore. The 80-year-old man is watching the play from his wheelchair, reaching back across the decades to that glory year of 1950.

“It’s wonderful, wonderful,” said Kersten, a resident at Valley View Senior Living.

Kersten had just finished watching the footage yesterday with the Kansas City Royals, a Harlingen-based Little League baseball team. They’d come to enjoy a “miracle moment” with Kersten.

“Miracle Moment is bringing a moment from your past to right now,” said Crystal Concha, life enrichment director at the facility.

“We asked one of the little leagues to come in and honor him,” she said.

After watching the footage, each team member came by and shook hands with the former little leaguer. He was first given a plaque which read, “Once a champion, always a champion.” Then the team gave him a baseball each player had signed.

The black and white footage showing his teammates defeating the Bridgeport, Connecticut, Little League team caught him by surprise.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he said. “It brought back a lot of memories.”

That memory included winning the Little League World Series that year.

The young players from the Kansas City Royals, themselves undefeated this year, enjoyed the moment.

“It was cool. I feel honored and happy,” said Jace Kushner, 12. “He was reliving his glory days.”

Fellow player Seth Reyna agreed.

“It was great to see how he played base,” said Seth, 12. “I was kind of excited.”

Their coach, Clint Graham, couldn’t be happier with the boys’ participation. He appreciated them meeting someone who’d attained such greatness at age 12.

“It shows them that nothing’s impossible,” he said.