Local hero to many little leaguers, but known as Teddy to many, Oakhurst's own Theodore Lilly, the Dodgers crafty left hander, came to town Oct. 27 to "give back" to the community that he grew up in.
Sierra Meadows hosted Lilly's second annual golf tournament that helps raise funds for Mountain Area little league programs as well as the Yosemite High School, where Lilly left his mark on his way to the major leagues.
We are all familiar with Lilly's story and how he so graciously gives back to the children of the community year in and year out. How he provided Yosemite High with funds for many field improvements over the years.
Last year's golf tournament proceeds, in part, bought a new tarp that covers the entire varsity infield, a must as we battle the elements throughout the baseball season in the foothills.
"Just the other day I was looking at some pictures of the kids I grew up with ... I still talk to a lot of those guys today," Lilly told me at the tournament.
Lilly didn't start playing baseball till he was 12. Ron Grant and Ron Mendez were his Little League coaches.
"I had a great time ... those are some good memories," said Lilly.
His first Little League team -- The Giants.
His first pitching coach was Billy Megowen. He was 22 at the time and he recalls him being a great communicator with kids.
I asked him when he first thought he had what it took to pitch in the "pros."
"When I finally signed ... even then, you have doubts," Lilly said. "But I wanted to do everything I could to find out if I was good enough to make it. I dropped everything in my life to focus on baseball ... to get to that level ... I didn't think I was talented enough without putting everything I had into baseball."
On his plans for the future, he hopes to continue pitching for the Dodgers, and later in life would like to stay involved in the game, at the majors level or do something close to home, maybe in the San Luis Obispo area where he maintains a home.
He said growing up in Oakhurst has been a big part of the success that he has experienced on the field and that the people he grew up around are a special group. Lilly stated he is proud to be able to do what he does for the community and still feels a part of the community.
The community feels the same. You can look at any field where Little league is played in the Mountain Area or at Yosemite High School and feel connected to the Dodger pitcher. Ted may never know the impact he has made on many young ball players in the area as they take the Little League mound dreaming that one day, they too may be the "local boy, made good." Setting their sights for the sky, knowing there was one before them, that is living the dream of pitching in the "Big Leagues."