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35 Years Later - Northwood Little League’s Run to the 1987 Little League World Series

By NWLL, 08/25/22, 1:45PM PDT



For Immediate Release

August 23, 2022


League President: Jason Quimby |

League Player Agent and Historian: Michael Madden |


35th Anniversary of 1987 Little League U.S. Championship.

All photos courtesy of Northwood Little League

35 Years Later - Remembering Northwood Little League’s Fairytale Run to the 1987 Little League World Series

Irvine, CA - This weekend, every Little League family’s TV across the country will be tuned into the Little League World Series in Williamsport where the world’s best Little League baseball teams compete for the singular title of World Champion.

This year marks the 35th Anniversary of Northwood Little League’s United States Championship and the “fairytale run” to the 1987 Little League World Series. NWLL was the first league in Orange County to make it to a Championship Game. While the 1987 team ultimately lost the championship to Hua Lian from Taiwan, NWLL continues to celebrate our U.S. Championship and the local baseball heroes that put Orange County Little League baseball on the global stage.

In 1987, Northwood Little League was new to the world of Little League International, having been incorporated formally as a League only four years prior. The Little League Majors team was made up of 11 and 12 year olds from Irvine, CA including Aron Garcia, Ryan Jones, Chris Greinke, Ryan O’Toole, Tommy Louie, Erik Sobek and Steve Mendoza, among others. NWLL keeps in touch with our local Little League stars, who have come out to Opening Day to inspire the kids and talk about their experience in the Little League World Series tournament.

On their run up to the Championship in 1987, Northwood won 18 straight games, and recorded no losses. In the District Tournament, they won five in a row, defeating North Mission Viejo in the final game for the District 55 Title.

Northwood went on to take the Section 5 Title by winning three consecutive games. The star pitcher, Aron Garcia, threw two complete games, a feat for a young arm.

The Southern California Division 3 Tournament was next and Northwood went undefeated for four games. The final game against Northridge was a shut-out 7-0 with pitcher Chris Greinke striking out nine batters.

Northwood racked up another four wins in the Little League West Region tournament: 9-0 over Utah, 18-0 over Idaho, 7-1 over Washington, and 15-0 over Northern California in the championship game.

Finally, the little team from Irvine had arrived at the 41st Little League World Series, where 8 of the world’s best Little League teams battled for the title of World Champion. Northwood came out of the gates strong, winning the first three rounds of the Tournament with resounding victories. In the semifinal game, Northwood beat Chesterfield from Indiana 8-1 to seal the U.S. Championship. Northwood went on to lose in the World Championship game to a team from Hua Lian, Taiwan 21-1.

Despite the loss in the final game, Northwood put Orange County on the map as the first team from the region to advance to the Little League World Series. The story of the 1987 team continues to inspire Northwood Little League players today. And with teamwork, a lot of heart, and a little luck, Northwood Little League will be back at Williamsport someday soon.


Burt, Tim. “Northwood remembers 1987 National Championship Little League Squad” (March 7, 2007).

Burt, Tim. Thirty years ago, Northwood Little League’s major all-stars went to Williamsport for World Series” (August 7, 2017).

Sharon, Keith. “25 years later, Northwood Little League team is still standing tall” (August 19, 2012).

About Northwood Little League  

Northwood Little League is a 100% volunteer-run youth baseball organization affiliated with Little League International. NWLL, based in Irvine, California, promotes and develops sportsmanship, character, teamwork, and the physical well-being of Irvine youths in a friendly, safe, and competitive environment.  NWLL is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation. Our program serves youth in Northpark, Northwood, Woodbury, Orchard Hills, Great Park, and other surrounding areas of North Irvine.

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