While tight funds almost grounded the team at home, the efforts of local residents and business merchants helped push them on the road to victory.
Last Thursday, West New York Mayor Silverio "Sal" Vega held a press conference making a public appeal on behalf of the team to help raise money for the cost of the trip to Michigan.
"We have to support our kids and local athletics," said Vega, who promised the team would get to Michigan no matter what. "These young men are continuing our rich history of achievement in baseball. They've made West New York very proud, and we want to give them this great opportunity."
The team had to raise over $20,000 in order to meet the expenses for the trip.
"We went out and got some money from local merchants," said Head Coach Lou Nagurka. "We made requests to see if anyone could donate some money."
They ended up raising only $4,500 to $5,000 before heading out, but on Sunday, all 20 boys were on the bus to Michigan.
The town was able to pay for the buses and drivers, and the remaining costs were put on the personal credit cards of the coaches and the scorekeepers, who will be reimbursed by continuing fundraising efforts.
In addition to paying for the transportation, the town will also donate a significant amount toward the expenses.
"Mayor Vega has been great to us," said Nagurka. "Whatever we need, he'll give us. He's been great." Donations continue to come in, and can be made by calling the mayor's office at (201) 295-5100.
'We are the champions'
The West New York Tigers won the State Championship on Tuesday, July 24. It was a glorious culmination to their regular season with a standing record of 11 to 2.
"We were all very excited as we were going into the season," said Nagurka, who has coached in the town for 32 years. "As long as the kids played well, we knew we were going to be right up there with the best teams."
Born and raised in West New York, Nagurka also played in the town's baseball leagues as a kid, and went to play high school ball and college ball.
"I've always enjoyed being with the kids, and since I was 15 years old, I loved being on the sidelines coaching," said Nagurka. "I'm never giving it up."
At the state championships, they played against teams from Jersey City, Paterson, and Oakland, and had a record of 5 to 1, losing only one game.
"We were state champs in the past," said Nagurka. "The last time was in 2000, so it's been seven years."
Twenty boys together
This is Nagurka's first year with this group of ball players, who came together as a team very quickly.
"They were all in Little League, and we have been [together] since April 21 almost every day," said Nagurka.
Nagurka said there is always a period of adjustment to get to know each other when you have a new bunch of kids and coaches, but for the most part the team learned fast.
"The kids are very cooperative and very attentive," said Nagurka. "They got to know each other and everything worked out fine this year."
He added, "We have been playing very well, and [throughout the season]. We were getting better as a defensive team."
One of the turning points of the regular season was during a two game double-header against Paterson.
"We lost the first game at home 13 to 1, but in the second game we beat them 5 to 3 in Paterson," said Nagurka. "That's when we knew we were a good team."
The team traveled to Battle Creek, Mich. for the Dale Murphy World Series. They arrived on Monday, two days before opening ceremonies and games.
"We're having a good time and the kids are very excited," said Nagurka on Monday in Battle Creek.
On Wednesday, the West New York Tigers won their first game against Georgia and they are scheduled to play five games in the tournament, which finishes this weekend.
The top teams will play in this Sunday's game for the Dale Murphy World Series Championship title. Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com