After Cumberland American, the Rhode Island Little League Champions, were eliminated by Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West on Monday in an 8-7 Little League World Series classic on ESPN, Cumberland’s manager David Belisle gave his heartbroken team an emotional speech that put their accomplishments into perspective.
ESPN cameras aired the scene live. The replay has been airing regularly on SportsCenter and is spreading through social media.
“Having David Belisle mic’d up has been a no-brainer. He is total class,” said Tom McNeeley, ESPN coordinating producer. “It was suggested by [ESPN Senior Vice President, Production] Mark Gross that we stay on Belisle and not rush off the air because we knew something special was happening.”
McNeeley has gotten to know the manager since Belisle brought his team to Williamsport, Pa. – site of the Little League World Series – in 2010. McNeeley wasn’t surprised to hear this kind of passion from the Cumberland manager.
“He is always inspirational and emotional,” McNeeley said. “We are always recording his audio in-game. He is a great guy and I only wish he had one more young son that he could coach and possibly lead to Williamsport one more time.”
Tom McNeeley, ESPN coordinating producer, on the decision to air David Belisle’s speech
He is referring to younger son John Belisle, who played for Cumberland this year. In addition, David’s son James played for Cumberland during the 2010 Little League World Series and could be seen leading the cheering section this year.
It was truly an emotional family affair for the Belisles. David’s wife Nancy, who is battling cancer, had flown in for the game and was there to witness her family, and her town’s, valiant effort. ESPN’s Jaymee Sire interviewed her during the second inning of the telecast.
David Belisle also gave Sire one of his famous pep talks before she took on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.