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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK : Northridge Players Get a Signing Bonus

August 26, 1994|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The penmanship of 12-year-olds isn't usually the greatest, but the Northridge players are getting some practice before school begins next month.

They have been besieged with requests for autographs following each game, mostly from girls about their own age. The players sign programs, T-shirts and baseballs.

Some enjoy it more than others.

"This is unreal," said first baseman Matt Cassel to catcher Matt Cunningham. Both players tried to appear nonchalant, but couldn't help giggling.

It was no laughing matter to Peter Tuber, Northridge's standout pitcher, when he saw his teammates being swarmed.

"Is there another way out of here?" he asked a Little League official.

The official pointed to another exit, and Tuber bolted.

*

A trained eye: On the field, Tuber is perhaps the most poised of the Northridge players. His ability to remain calm and focused reminds his grandmother, Pat Reiser, of her late husband, Pete Reiser.

Tuber was named after Reiser, who died in 1981, two months after Tuber was born. Reiser played outfield for 10 years with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was the National League batting champion in 1941.

"Little Pete and his grandfather both are all business on the field," said Pat Reiser, who married Pete in 1941, the year after he was National League rookie of the year. "Pete has the same look in his eye his grandfather had."

Pat lives in Palm Springs and has seen most of Peter's all-star games. She gets more apprehensive watching her grandson than she did watching her husband.

"I suppose I feel more for him," she said of Peter. "He's my grandson and I get nervous."

She'll have plenty of reason to be nervous Saturday. Peter is scheduled to be the starting pitcher for Northridge against Maracaibo, Venezuela, in the World Series championship game.

Tuber, who struck out 13 in a 6-4 victory over Middleboro, Mass., on Tuesday, probably will face Cesar Hidalgo, who struck out 15 in a 4-1 victory over Chinese Taipei.

*

Cheeky gals: With national attention on their brothers, what are sisters of Northridge players to do on game day?

Paint their faces, what else?

Beth Cunningham, 14, serves as official artist.

"It's fun," she said, shrugging while painting No. 14 on the cheeks of Katie, 6, and Kelly Fisher, 10, sisters of shortstop Matt. He is, of course, No. 14.

Cunningham, Becky Teraoka, 15, Traci Wallis, 19, and Lindsay Wallis, 17, also created colorful posters.

*

Hot commodity: Seventy additional T-shirts with the words "The Earthquake Kids" circled around a baseball marked with a Richter scale were sent by Federal Express to Michael Nesbit, father of outfielder Mike Nesbit.

The shirts were sold for $10 each. Another shipment is due Saturday morning with a line added: "United States champion."

*

Facing the music: Music is played over loudspeakers between innings and one song is a favorite of Northridge reserves Michael Nesbit, David Teraoka, Scooter Drake, Todd Delevie and John-Michael Baca.

They sing along to the lyrics of John Fogerty's "Centerfield," with special emphasis on the line, "Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play . . . today."

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