Grotes Gripes: Little Big Men; Stars From The Little League World Series

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This Is What A Winner Looks Like

WILLIAMSPORT, PA –The Little League World Series is in full swing, with the winner crowned this Sunday. The final always pits the U.S. champion versus the winner of the bracket made up of all other eligible countries. Up until the late 90’s the Asian teams dominated the U.S. in the finals with either Japan, South Korea or Taiwan winning 22 out of 30 years. The U.S. has had much more success recently winning 6 out of the last 7 contests.

There are some famous athletes who have participated in the Little League World Series. Not only MLB players like the incomparable Jason Bay but NFL players like QB’s Brian Sipe and Turk Schonert and even NHL players like Pierre Turgeon and Chris Drury. Drury was a Little League World Series champion for Trumbell, CT, a NCAA college hockey champion for my Boston University Terriers and an Stanley Cup Champion for the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL. That guy was a flat out winner (as opposed to Jason Bay who is a flat out loser).

There have been 10 players who played in the Little League World Series and in the Major League World Series. Here they are:

Boog Powell 1954 (Lakeland, Florida) 1966 World Series He was known as Booger Powell back in those days. Once he grew to 6’4″ teammates wisely shortened his name to Boog.

Jim Barbieri 1954 (Schenectady, New York) 1966 World Series Barbieri’s team won the LLWS in 1954 but in his only major league WS, he lost to Powell’s Orioles team.

Rick Wise 1958 (Portland, Oregon) 1975 World Series Once pitched a no-hitter in which he hit two home runs. That wasn’t Little League – that was in the major leagues. He also makes a hell of a BBQ potato chip.

Carney Lansford 1969 (Santa Clara, California) 1988, 1990 World Series Who says Carney folk never amount to anything in life?

Ed Vosberg 1973 (Tucson, Arizona) 1997 World Series Vosberg not only was in the LL and MLB World Series but played for the  College World Series champions Arizona Wildcats in 1980.  Pretty impressive for a guy nobody has ever heard of.

Charlie Hayes 1977 (Hattiesburg, Mississippi) 1996 World Series Hayes toiled in obscurity until he played on the Yankees in 1996 and caught the final out of the World Series.

Derek Bell 1980 (Tampa, Florida) 1992 World Series He famously lived on a house boat later in his MLB career. Enacted Operation Shutdown after he was benched by the Pirates in spring training 2002 and was subsequently cut while still owed $4.5 million. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline read “Derek Bell becomes the ultimate Pirate: Lives on a boat and steals money.”

Gary Sheffield 1980 and 1981 (Tampa, Florida) 1997 World Series – Sheffield played on the same team with Derek Bell.  His uncle Dwight Gooden had played on the same team a few years before.  That was some damn good LL team and probably harder to handle than The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (though nobody could handle Jimmy Baio – not even William Devane).

Twelve-Year-Old Badass

Jason Marquis 1991 (Staten Island, New York) 2004 World Series A New York Jew made the list.  Mazel Tov.

Jason Veritek 1984 (Altamonte Springs, Florida) 2004 and 2007 World Series Like Vosberg, he also played in the College World Series title game with Georgia Tech in 1994.  To be fair, Vosberg never shoved his glove up the nose of Alex Rodriguez like Veritek did back in 2004.

Stay tuned for a man who certainly never played in the LLWS, Angry Ward.

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