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Dispatch from Panama: Pitchers and Catchers

Posted by Tom Haines, Globe Travel Writer  February 22, 2008 09:34 AM

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The annual national junior baseball championship can draw major league scouts to Panama. Two who have made it to the Major League include Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Too early to tell whether this year's champs, from the province of Chiriqui, hold any future pros. But the crowd along the Pan American Highway was happy enough with the junior squad - 15- and 16 year-olds, mostly - who captured the national crown last week. By nightfall, traffic slowed to a crawl for miles approaching the city of David, as flat bed trucks played host to the players clad in orange jerseys, families lined the roadside and followed along in cars and trucks of their own. Chiriquano pride shone in flags and chants and smiles.

chiriqui%20champs.jpg

The procession snaked into the city, rounded the central park partly cooled from the day's heat, and on to the floodlit stadium. Speakers blared music with Latin beats toward midnight, a Pacific parade without end.

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Photo: Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

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