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The Pride of Massapequa

When the Massapequa International Little League team won the regional championships and qualified for the junior league World Series, everyone was surprised.

Everyone except their head coach, Councilman Joe Pinto.

“Nobody gave us a chance for the longest time,” said Pinto, who has coached Massapequa little league for more than 30 years. “This team worked and worked and worked. When they won the state championship and realized they had a chance at the World Series, words cannot describe the expression on their faces.”

The team from Massapequa did not win the Series, but ending up on the wrong side of the win/loss column did not diminish the team’s accomplishments, according to Pinto.

“We were told that no eastern team has played .500 ball in this series since 1997. We knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “We were in almost every single game and we became the fan favorites over there. People were really rooting for us.”

In their final game, Massapequa lost to a tough Arizona team, falling to the eventual champions 2-1.

And when the team returned home Sunday night, they did so to a hero’s a welcome as more than 200 people packed into Burns Park with banners, balloons and applause.

“It was unbelievable how many people showed up,” he said. “We pulled up and everyone is cheering, going crazy. It made the kids feel very special. It reminded them that they had accomplished something that the entire community was following. And everyone was very proud of them.”

The accolades did not end there. Little League officials made sure each players’ front lawn was decorated with banners congratulating them on making it to the World Series. And town Mayor Jeffrey Pravato allowed a banner to be hung at the Massapequa Park train station.

It is a memory that Pinto knows will stay with the team forever. The councilman believes that the camaraderie and friendships fostered during little league years are some of the best and brightest of these young players’ lives.

“I got calls from people who were in this program in the 1980s congratulating me and the team and wishing us the best of luck,” he said. “When you represent your hometown, it is something that you never forget. These kids will always remember when they played in the World Series representing their Massapequa community.”

The Massapequa International Little League Junior team includes Joseph Amadio, Patrick Clyne, Michael Cottone, Andrew Ditzel, Daniel Favicchio, Joseph Imbriano, Cole Masterson, Kristen Moldovan, Matthew Pinto, Andrew Primm, Gregory Slator, Vincent Tossone, Kristen Moldovan and Matthew Voyes. Manager is Joe Pinto and coaches are Joe Amadio and Greg Slator.