It seems every year is a good year for south county sports. Every year produces its share of outstanding teams, outstanding athletes, champions and near champions. It is just that some years are better than other years.
Then there was 2012, a year like no other. Not all the news was good and not all was understandable, but taken as a whole, 2012 was not just a good year — it was a great year.
The year was elevated out of the realm of just ordinarily good to great by a group of 13 Little Leaguers, their coaches and their families. The Petaluma National Little League's run to and through the Little League World Series was the stuff of legends. A big enough story to move off the sports pages onto the front pages of newspapers throughout the Bay Area and to the top of television and radio broadcasts.
It easily made the list of the Argus-Courier's top news stories of the year and was a no-brainer pick as Petaluma's top sports story of the year, probably the decade and possibly the century.
For those who slept through the year or were visiting the moon, what they Petaluma National All-Star team did was become the first Petaluma Little League team ever to reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
Once in the World Series, they captured the nation's attention by the way they played the game, conducted themselves and by their fortitude. They won five games and lost just two, finishing third in the world and defeating Panama in a meeting with the International Division's runner-up team.
But, it was in defeat that they made their most lasting impression, rallying from 10 runs down in the last inning of the U.S. championship game to force extra innings against the Goolettsville, Tenn. All-Stars. Petaluma lost in extra innings, but the comeback will be forever remembered by those who followed their exploits.
When they returned home, it was to a celebration that lasted for two months, highlighted by a ticker-tape parade through their hometown viewed by an estimated 20,000 fans.
2012 was a year that Kempton Brandis, Blake Buhrer, Logan Douglas, Quinton Gago, Danny Marzo, Bradley Smith, Hance Smith, Porter Slate, Cole Tomei, Andrew White, Dylan Moore, James O'Hanlon, Austin Paretti, manager Eric Smith, coach Mike Slate and coach Trevor Tomei will never forget and the rest of the community will long remember.
But there were other memorable accomplishments in the year that just passed.
On a top-10 list, in no particular order, would be:
New home for Petaluma National Little League. The grand opening of a new baseball complex for the Petaluma National Little League would have captured even more attention had it not been overshadowed by the accomplishment of the league's own all-star team.
Forced to move by a planned commercial development from its home on the former Kenilworth Junior High School site, the National League played its first season in a new home on the other side of town on the Petaluma Junior High School campus.
The new complex — three diamonds, a turf area and a surrounding running/walking track — was the result of cooperation between the shopping center developer, the City of Petaluma, the Petaluma City Schools District and the Little League. It was built with the help of many donations and the labor of countless volunteers.