The Wilkins Family's Little League® Delaware Dynasty
The nine tournaments that make up the Little League® World Series have become an international success, thanks to the millions of people watching and seeing the pure joy of young baseball or softball players doing what they loves most.
But for Guy Wilkins, Little League Baseball and Softball means something much more than just a beloved pastime. Baseball and softball symbolizes a heartfelt heritage.
“My father was a big part of my life, coming to all my games,” said Mr. Wilkins, briefly fighting back tears. “He passed away five years ago. He didn’t get to see my daughter play, but I also wanted to make sure I go to all of her games, like he did mine.”
Delaware District 3 celebrating their 2013 Big League Softball World Series Championship.
Wilkins’s Little League history runs deeper than most. He won a Senior League Baseball World Series championship in 1981, going 3-0 as a pitcher, and he recently coached his daughter Shelby’s Delaware District 3 team that went 4-0 en route to a 2013 Big League Softball World Series title. He’s become something of Little League royalty — there aren’t many second-generation champions— but despite all of the success he’s had, what he remembers most are the people, the moments, not the wins. His favorite memories are those of his father, not a pitch he threw or a strikeout he racked up.
“He talks about it a lot,” said Shelby, who hit .250 over six games in the World Series, including a single in the final against Puerto Rico. She laughs, as though that was just a bit of an understatement. “I know it meant a lot to him, and it’s cool to share that.”
Mr. Wilkins recalls the celebrations from that magical run over 30 years ago as though they were yesterday: standing on the field after beating California 2-1 in the winner’s bracket, surrounded by friends and family who had stormed the field. The opportunity to give his daughter the same memories was special.
Guy Wilkins's 1981 Senior League Baseball World Series Championship team.
This was just an extraordinary group of girls,” said Mr. Wilkins. “They were just great to be around — when it came time to play softball, it’s game time, but as soon as that was over, it was just laughs.”
His experience as a player helped him in a lot of ways as a coach.He had been there before and climbed the mountain, and Shelby says he knew how to keep the girls focused, calm and loose.
“He was great,” said Shelby. “To have him always there was huge, and all the stories he told helped us think we could do this, too.”
“I think I helped to just keep the pressure off the girls,” said Mr. Wilkins. “You want them thinking about just playing ball, doing their best and seeing what happens.”
But, still, there were some things his playing career couldn’t prepare him for as a coach. He almost bursts out laughing when asked which is the more nerve-wracking experience: playing on the biggest stage, or coaching on it?
“Oh, there’s no comparison, it’s being a coach,” said Mr. Wilkins. “As a player you just go out and play the game. As a coach you’re thinking about every move you make, making sure everybody’s doing the right thing and that everything is perfect for those players.”
According to his daughter, though, dad doesn’t have much to worry about.
“When we were playing, he would definitely tell me when I messed up,” said Shelby. “But I knew he was always there for me, and it’s great to have your dad as a coach. I feel really lucky.”