The photos are going up around Petaluma of a curly haired kid named Ted who has become a good luck charm for the Little League team by rubbing the back of his head.
ABC7 visited is the wunderkind behind the tradition. He is 4-year-old Ted Belove who has become an unofficial member of the team. It started in the regular season and continued into the World Series Championship games, players rubbing Ted's head for luck. It's kind of the brain child of Ted's older brother Max who played on an All-Star team. They played a little ball of their own Thursday afternoon.
"And I had the idea to just start rubbing his head because everyone just really loved him and we just started winning a bunch of games with it and stuff," said Max.
"They just started this. They all love Ted anyways so he was always around for the games, and so they just started rubbing his head and somehow it just became the good luck thing. They must have won a few games after doing that and then they just wouldn't let it go," said Jen Belove, Ted and Max's mother.
When Ted can't be at the games, there are photos to rub.
"He knows he's got a job. He takes his hat off and everybody goes buy and rubs his head and some of them give him hugs because that's part of their deal too," said Jen.
Petaluma has rallied around the team, but behind the cheers it's been difficult, especially for the parents of the players who want to travel with the boys. Billie Ann Tomei lost her job managing a CPA's office after she knew her boss needed her to stay.
"I mean this was a tough choice for both of us I think. I just don't think maybe he realized just how important this was or what an opportunity this was," said Tomei.
Now she and the rest of Petaluma are hoping it all pays off.
"They earned their way there. They worked really hard and this has been their dream ever since they were like 7 years old and I'm just really happy for them," said Max.
They'll now go on to play in the US Championship game on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. It will air on ABC7 and ESPN 3D. Regardless if they win or lose, there will be a parade for the team on Sept. 2.
Petaluma residents gearing up for must-win game
Everyone is talking about the boys of Petaluma who have put their city on the map. At Mr. Mom's Caf? in Petaluma, they're serving up omelets and anything else customers might order, but there tends to be just one topic there lately: the boys of summer representing the city in the Little League World Series. "No question about it. They're very excited, great group of kids fantastic for this city and everything," said Petaluma resident Scott Pariani who said added he was "definitely" following the team.
It's not just the main topic in Petaluma, it's the buzz countywide. "The players say they're all excited and it put them on the map. So yeah, it's reaching now to Sonoma," said Sonoma resident Rob Repetto.
Owner Tom Rennia remembers when Petaluma was best known as the egg capital of the world. Now, the little leaguers have given the city another dimension. Tom wants to bring in the entire team the morning of their parade on September 2 to serve up what else but the restaurants "World Series Special" which has been on the menu for 26 years. "We'd like to feed the kids on us the morning of the parade," Rennia said. "I don't know if we can do that. I'm trying to email Mr. Blackey and find out if that's at all possible."
Waitress Chelsea Harris says everyone's talking about it and rooting hard that Petaluma will be the king of the little league world. She says she overheard a story of a woman who was beside herself because she couldn't get a ticket to see a World Series game at the local theater. "And the person who works there ended up having to really hustle to get her in there, but really wanted her to see it so made it happen for her which I thought was really cute," she recalled.
Thursday night's game will be shown at that same theater for $5 per person. They'll be giving away rally towels and holding a raffle. Of course, the odds of winning that raffle aren't good, but neither were the odds that the Petaluma Little League team was going to make it to the World Series, and look at them now.