After a whirlwind month away from home, reality set in 7 a.m. Tuesday for Tim Rogers.
It was back to work -- not on the baseball diamond, but in the office.
"I have no line of sight into what day it is, what the date is. ... The summer's gone. It'll be a little rocky," Rogers said Sunday, the last day of a 25-day odyssey from Westport to Bristol to South Williamsport, Pa., and back.
Tuesday also marked the start of a new school year for Westport's 11 all-stars, who became celebrities overnight for their heroics at the Little League World Series. They have swapped autograph signings and cameos on ESPN for homework and tests.
There was still a little time Monday to let the joy soak in with a hometown parade and celebratory ceremony. Fans flocked to the players and coaches, some in search of an autograph or photo, others simply to welcome them back.
Chad Knight, who gained stardom for his contributions at the plate and on the mound at the LLWS, doesn't see the attention dissipating too soon.
"I think it's going to take a little while for that to happen because it's really just a shock to all of us," he said. "The next few weeks, we'll really just let it sink in."
They'll let a historic summer marinate, one unmatched by Westport's countless all-star teams before them. In the last quarter century, only one team from Connecticut -- Trumbull, the world champions in 1989 -- authored a better run at the LLWS than Westport's fourth-place finish.
"They proved that they belonged here. They were one of the last teams standing," Rogers said following a 15-14 loss to Tijuana, Mexico in Sunday's third-place game. "Their baseball skills are right at the top of the world."
Westport went 3-3 at the LLWS (21-3 overall) and made a stunning run to the United States final. There, it lost to Chula Vista, Calif., 12-1 before 27,612 packed into Lamade Stadium. Just a day earlier, Westport had rallied from down seven runs in the fifth inning to shock Sammamish, Wash. 14-13, just to stay alive.
"Give them credit. They came a long ways," California manager Rick Tibbett said of the Westport team. "They played a heck of a game (against Washington) to come back. ... We knew that we had to keep the pedal on them and just keep punching away and getting runs."
Shortly after Sunday's third-place game, the players and coaches -- all of whom were away from home since the start of the New England regional in Bristol on Aug. 2 -- departed South Williamsport for a four-hour bus ride back to Westport. Some players watched a movie, while Rogers followed the LLWS championship between Chula Vista and Japan -- an eventual 6-4 Japan win -- on GameChanger.
"When we got to the Connecticut line, we had some final words," said Rogers, describing the ride as "low-key."
The team eventually received a police escort back home for their first celebration at the Black Duck restaurant. On Monday, they were greeted with a heroes' welcome by an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 people in downtown Westport.
"Now it's definitely onto celebration and what was accomplished and how it was accomplished," Rogers said. "The amazing thing is how it impacted the community. It's crazy."
The coaches and players all aluded to the overwhelming support they received at the LLWS. There were countless emails and texts, some from people whom they hadn't heard from in years. The Westport library and several local restaurants holded viewing parties. And at Lamde, nearly 100,000 people combined to attend their six games.
"After every game, you open your phone and you don't even know what to do," shortstop Ricky Offenberg said after the win over Washington, referring to the volume of messages.
The all-stars will be happy to hold onto those messages for quite some time.
Dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour