Hope sprang eternal over a Land Park Little League baseball diamond Saturday morning - with the shimmering past a big player in the 2013 season-opening ceremonies.
The past came in the form of a rare reunion. In attendance Saturday were 11 of the 14 Land Park Little Leaguers who went on to become Pacific Little League All Stars, whose team went to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in 1983.
This year's season began with a traditional parade, with members of the 1983 team gracing the back of the lead truck. A long string of balloon-decorated cars and trucks followed, hauling hopeful six and seventh graders from league teams.
In August it will be 30 years since the local team won divisional and sectional games to earn a spot in at the World Series.
All of the players are now in their 40's now. Some have remained athletic, and most are now raising families and have established careers.
They share something in common in that they all speak wistfully about that summer of '83.
"You don't realize how a big thing that was until you look back," said Steve Dacong. Now 40, and a chef, Dacong was a bench player on the '83 team, and played right field when called upon.
The reunion was special, given that the last time the group reunited, if only partially, was a decade ago. Today's reunion is bringing back players who have not seen each other for 30 years.
"Thirty years have past, but we are still friends - it's a camaraderie thing," said Dacong.
Patrick Zalasky, 41, concurs. He was the starting pitcher the day the team made its Word Series debut, only to be eliminated by a score of 8-2.
"You realize how close you were when you were younger, and how that continues, even though we don't see each other a lot," said Zalasky.
In 1983, all games at the divisional level and above were single elimination, unlike World Series play today where twice as many teams compete in pool play, with a a team able to advance despite losing a game.
"It was an improbable season, and a once in a lifetime kind of thing," said Bob Foster, who coached the team. Foster, 66, is now the mayor of the city of Long Beach. But on Saturday he was just another Little League ball player - with the Pacific Little League all star cap donning his head, and the team trophy nearby.
"It was such an accomplishment I put it on my resume," said Foster.
Call the Bee's Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Twitter: @edwardortiz