At the first practice of the Langley Little League All Stars’ 1998 season, coach Dave Mihalech instructed all players and parents there was a seven-letter word that would be the most important factor in the team’s success. The players called out guesses like ‘pitching,’ ‘batting,’ and ‘fielding.’ Mihalech shook his head no at each before revealing the word was H-A-R-M-O-N-Y: harmony, whether up in the bleachers, on the field, or in the dugout. This immensely talented young team took those seven letters to heart as they produced one of the greatest seasons ever by a Canadian Little League baseball team.

Based out of Langley’s City Park, the All Stars had it all: an ace pitching staff, a batting order capable of launching bombs every trip to the plate, and tidy fielding all over the diamond. Langley quickly developed a reputation for ‘mercying’ teams with football-esque scores. After defeating Whalley to win their district and Prince George to win provincials—by 11-1 scores—the All Stars flew to Nova Scotia, where they defeated host Glace Bay 4-1 to claim the Canadian Little League championship.

From there it was down to Williamsport, Pennsylvania as Canada’s rep at the Little League World Series with all of BC captivated by the All Stars every move. After victories over Latin America (Guadalupe, Mexico), Far East (Kashima, Japan), and Europe (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) to finish first in the International pool, the All Stars not only had rung up a 19-game winning streak, but also were the province’s top news story. Facing Kashima, Japan once again in the semifinals, All Stars pitcher Jeff Duda valiantly threw a Little League World Series record 17 strikeouts (a record that stands to this day), but Langley fell 3-2 in an extra innings heartbreaker.

Honoured the next day before a Toronto Blue Jays game at SkyDome, the All Stars flew home and were greeted with the largest parade in Langley’s history, an estimated crowd of 5000 celebrating these remarkable boys of summer.

Langley’s tie for third place at the Little League World Series remains one of Canada’s best-ever finishes in the tournament. No Canadian team has finished higher since.

Team Members: Andrew Bell, Faizan Choudhry, Clayton Deglan, George Duda (coach), Jeff Duda, Mike Erickson, Brad Fraser, Mark Henderson, Jared Krause, Jordan Lennerton, Brett Logan, Brad MacDonald, Dave Mihalech (coach), Gary Mikesh (coach), Tanner Mikesh, Karl Reddick, Brian Sargent (manager), Sean Sargent.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.