SAN DIEGO (AP) - One after another, the members of the Little League World Series championship team from suburban Chula Vista ran through a tunnel formed by the San Diego Chargers and exchanged high-fives with the NFL players.
Almost all the 12- and 13-year-olds were completely engulfed by the huge football players.
Luke Ramirez, of course, held his own.
As he has for the better part of a month, as the Park View Little League All-Stars advanced along the road to South Williamsport, Pa., the 6-foot-2, 212-pound slugger heard smack talk about his size.
"Can I see your birth certificate?" cornerback Antonio Cromartie laughed. "Can I see your ID?" added defensive end Luis Castillo, who later compared notes with Ramirez and determined that he certainly wasn't that big when he was 13.
Even LaDainian Tomlinson busted his chops.
"That was fun. He asked me for my birth certificate and all that stuff," Ramirez said. "It was nice."
Said Tomlinson: "He's a big kid. It's hard to believe that he's what, 13 now?"
The Chargers seemed to have as much fun as the Little Leaguers, who got to skip school Tuesday on their first full day back in town. They rallied to beat Taiwan 6-3 on Sunday to become only the second team from San Diego County to win the Little League World Series.
"It was awesome," Tomlinson said. "Watching those guys do what they did, being the best in the world, man, it was pretty sweet that they were right here in San Diego. Having the chance to meet them was even better."
The Park View players are getting used to their celebrity status. They were welcomed home Monday night by several thousand fans at a junior college football stadium.
They found out on the trip home that they'd get to meet the Chargers.
"I was so excited that we got to come out and see all these guys," said Ramirez, who is too big to play Pop Warner football. "I knew they were going to be loose and stuff, and practice was going to be really fun. I definitely enjoy watching these guys every Sunday. They're my favorite team."
The Chargers plan to honor Park View at their home opener against Baltimore on Sept. 20.
Coincidentally, the only other San Diego-area team to win the Little League World Series, the El Cajon-La Mesa Northern All-Stars in 1961, had a strong football connection. That team included Brian Sipe, who went on to play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and was the NFL's MVP in 1980. He's now the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, San Diego State.
On Wednesday, Park View is scheduled to have dinner with Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who grew up in Chula Vista.
Gonzalez and his older brother, Edgar, who also plays for the Padres, have a unique connection to Park View. When they were boys, their father, David, built a batting cage in the backyard of their house in Chula Vista. The house was later bought by the family of Park View shortstop Andy Rios, and the batting cage became a hangout for the entire Park View team.
Chula Vista has scheduled a homecoming rally on Friday evening. The Padres plan to honor Park View during their next homestand, most likely on Sept. 12 before a game against the Colorado Rockies.
"This is all new to us, doing these appearances and stuff," said Park View Little League president Rod Roberto, whose son, Bradley, played right field. "The game part is something we know.
"To think that we're the champions, it's unbelievable. There's 7,500 teams. You get one chance to be 12 years old."
Roberto said he got a call from the players' various principals late Monday night. "Don't bring them in. Too much mayhem," Roberto said, adding that the boys will be welcomed at their schools on Wednesday.
"I think it's going to start cooling down a little bit," Ramirez said. "I think everybody loves the publicity right now and, I mean, I guess we're all ready to get back to reality."
NOTES: DT Travis Johnson practiced for the first time with the Chargers. He was acquired from the Houston Texans on Monday for an undisclosed draft pick in 2010. "He looked good," said coach Norv Turner, who added that Johnson won't play Friday night in the exhibition finale. ... The Chargers reached the 75-man roster limit by placing CB Brandon Hughes on injured reserve, WR Demetrius Byrd on the non-football injury list and waiving LB Anthony Felder.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.