Larry Bowa to Receive Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award
The award was established in 1987 to serve a two-fold purpose. First, and most importantly, the award is presented to a former Little Leaguer in Major League Baseball who best exemplifies the spirit of Little League Baseball. Consideration for selection includes both the individual’s ability and accomplishments and that person’s status as a positive role model.
“From his days as a Little Leaguer in California, through his years as a Major League Baseball player and manager, Larry Bowa has displayed Little League’s ideals of character, courage and loyalty,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “Mr. Bowa’s grit, determination and commitment to making himself, and his teammates better, makes us proud to honor him with this award.”
Playing for the Land Park Little League Cubs in Sacramento, Calif., Mr. Bowa participated in the Little League program for four years.
“When I was a kid playing in the park I used to think about playing for the Little League World Series,” Mr. Bowa said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch those teams, because they play with such enthusiasm. When you see all the different shapes and sizes of the players you know that baseball is the one sport where if you have heart and determination, you can do whatever you want to do.”
Mr. Bowa joined the Phillies in 1970 after five years in the minor leagues, and went on to win two Golden Glove Awards (1972, 78) and make five all-star appearances (1974-76, 78-79) in 12 seasons as Philadelphia’s starting shortstop. He played in the postseason five times (1976-78, 80-81), and was a key player on Philadelphia’s lone World Series championship team in 1980. Mr. Bowa was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1982 along with Phillies prospect, and 2005 National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum inductee, Ryne Sandberg. Mr. Bowa spent three-plus seasons with the Cubs. His final Major League season in 1985 was split between the Cubs and the New York Mets.
Upon retirement after a 16-year Major League career, Mr. Bowa owned the National League record for games played at shortstop (2,222), years leading the league’s shortstops in fielding (six), and for fewest errors in a season of 150 or more games (nine). He also holds the Major League record for highest fielding percentage for a career (.980) and for a season of over 100 games (.991).
“I could tell right away I was not going to be a very big guy, and I didn’t have a lot of natural ability, so I had to maintain my enthusiasm and attitude,” Mr. Bowa, who played shortstop and pitched for his Little League team, said. “Little League is a building block that taught me about work ethic and respect for the game. It’s obvious to me that Little League has had a major impact when I see guys in the big leagues sitting in the clubhouse watching the Little League World Series on TV.”
Retired as a player for less than one season, Mr. Bowa was hired as manager of the San Diego Padres at the end of the 1986 season. His stay in that position would last only one season. He got a second chance as a Major League manager at the end of the 2000 season, when he was hired by the Phillies. Mr. Bowa was named National League Manager of the Year in 2001, and tenure in Philadelphia ended following the 2004 season.
The Distinguished Little League Graduate Award was established in honor of the many contributions made to Little League Baseball by Bill Shea, former President of the Little League Foundation. Bill Shea is credited with bringing National League Baseball back to New York in the early 1960s, while also working diligently for the advancement of Little League Baseball.
Past recipients of the award include: 2004 – Billy Connors, National Little League, Schenectady, N.Y.; 2003 – Shawon Dunston, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Youth Services Little League; 2002 – Tommy John, Terre Haute (Ind.) Little League; 2001 – Orel Hershiser, Southfield (Mich.) Little League and Cherry Hill (N.J.) Little League; 2000 – George Brett, El Segundo (Calif.) American Little League; 1999 – Robin Yount, Woodland Hills (Calif.) Sunrise Little League; 1998 – Don Sutton, Cantonement (Fla.) Little League; 1997 – Ken Griffey, Sr., Donora (Pa.) Little League; 1996 – No award; 1995 – Rick Monday, Sunset Little League, Santa Monica, Calif.; 1994 – Len Coleman, Montclair (N.J.) Little League; 1993 – Gary Carter, West Fullerton (Calif.) Little League; 1992 – Steve Palermo, Oxford (Mass.) Little League; 1991 – Dave Dravecky, South Youngstown Optimist Little League, Boardman, Ohio; 1990 – Jim Palmer, Beverly Hills (Calif.) Little League; 1989 – Tom Seaver, Spartan Little League, Fresno, Calif.; 1988—Steve Garvey, Drew Park Little League, Tampa, Fla.; 1987 – Bobby Valentine, Mickey Lione Little League, Stamford, Conn.
The Little League Baseball World Series is the culmination of the world’s largest sports tournament, with more than 16,000 games played in six weeks on six continents. The Little League International Tournament ends with 16 teams advancing to Williamsport for the World Series. Information for the public on attending the Little League Baseball World Series is available at: http://www.littleleague.org.
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.