"And take this to bed with you tonight, that today . . . you made a wonderful difference in the lives around you, your teammates, even the guys you played against, and all the folks who envy your level of play and your command of the game. Remember, you made that difference because you yourself were changed when you started this journey and became this special person . . . you once only dreamed of."
Those very words weren't spoke by Jim Cotton, per se.
In a way, yes.
Fans cheer on the Mid-Atlantic team during last year’s Little League World Series in South Williamsport.
In print anyhow.
Those words were spoken by coach Nathean Summers, one of the main characters in Cotton's book, "Return to Summers Run," a journey of a Northwest, Pa., team and their trip to the Holy Grail of Little League baseball.
Really, though, the scary part is how similar the book reads to Keystone's magical 2011 run to the Little League World Series.
"I was getting the final chapters done, right around the time of regionals in my book, and all of a sudden, I turn on the television that I see the Keystone kids from Clinton County returning home from Connecticut with a regional championship. I almost fell out of my chair. I couldn't believe it," he said.
"I knew that Pennsylvania had a nice team in 2011, and I knew they were in contention for a regional title. I had no idea how similar it would be to my book. I nearly went up in smoke when the team took the Mid-Atlantic trophy that same day I was tying the final chapters. What irony."
The author admits his story wasn't necessarily about Keystone.
"My narrator, though, kind of reminds me of Cole Reeder," he said.
Instead, his story was based on a team from Lake Oswego, Ore., which qualified for the LLWS in 2007. In their regional, the team battled against a power from Kent, Wash., which only gave up seven run in the entire tournament.
"That Kent team was just cruising through the regional, and everyone expected them to get to South Williamsport. All of a sudden, the underdog struck.
"It's the underdog sports story we all love. There is something so right when small-town America shows its mettle. For Clinton County to defeat Paramus, N.J. was impressive."
Cotton - who resides in Montana, but visits Pennsylvania regularly - traveled to Clinton County last November and saw some of the fields were Keystone began its journey.
Which begs the question of what would have happened if Keystone faced Montana in last year's series?
"It was my dream game," he said. "It would have been terrific."
Cotton, though, loves the concept of Little League.
"The numbers pretty much speak for themselves," he said. "The competition is there, but Little League has survived and continues to thrive. And a lot of it has to do with the coaches themselves. You have people like Bill Garbrick, Chip Miller and Justin Kline, and you can see that responsibilty to the kids go beyond the game. For the kids, it's an amazing experience, and such a wonderful time in their lives. The people who run Little League in Williamsport, they are very studious people. They are always looking at the influence of sportsmanship and character development.
"When I played Little League, there was no moving on. We didn't have any follow-up leagues after Little League. It's not like it is today when you have another division. After you were too old, it was over."
Cotton is hoping to come to Clinton County for a book signing in the future.
Until then, he leaves with these parting words; a passage from his book.
"We are obliged to make baseball a memory these boys will cherish as they go on and look back on their time with us. . . . A boy will elbow his way through only if he learned to love - without reservation, unconditionally - the game at the lower levels. If he can maintain his love and confidence he gained from playing (at the Little League level), then he might decide, 'I'm going to be a survivor.'"
Tom Fox is the sports editor at The Express. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.