Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins to Receive Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 8, 2007) – Torii Hunter, all-star
outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, has been selected as the 2007
William A. “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. Mr. Hunter is the first active Major League player to be so honored, and will formally receive the award later this year.
“Torii Hunter has distinguished himself as a player in the Major
Leagues, but more so by the respect and support he has given to the
next generation of baseball players through his generosity to the
Little League Urban Initiative,” Stephen D. Keener, president and
chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said.
“Growing up in Pine Bluff, Ark., Mr. Hunter embraced Little League.
When his talent and determination allowed him to achieve his dream of
playing baseball professionally, he proudly accepted the
responsibility of being a role model for children, which makes us
proud to honor him with this award.”
Through the Torii Hunter Project, Mr. Hunter and several fellow Major League Baseball players contribute funds to support the annual Little League Urban Initiative Jamboree, which is designed to encourage more African-American children to play baseball. For years, the Little League Urban Initiative – Little League’s endeavor to bring the benefits of the program to families in urban areas – has provided young people a chance to play baseball where there was once little opportunity.
Playing for National Little League in Pine Bluff, Mr. Hunter participated in the Little League program for three years and was a two-time Little League International Tournament selection. Chosen 20th overall in the 1993 amateur draft, Mr. Hunter made his Major League debut in August 1997. For 11 seasons, he has been a fixture in centerfield for the Twins, winning six-consecutive Gold Gloves. At the plate, Mr. Hunter is a career .271 hitter, with more than 1,000 hits, and nearly 200 home runs.
“My family is honored, and I am proud, to receive the Distinguished Little League Graduate Award,” Mr. Hunter said. “My participation in Little League in Pine Bluff, Ark., opened doors for me, and showed me there were other opportunities in life that I could have with hard work and perseverance. I want to thank the volunteers of the Pine Bluff National Little League who took the time to nourish and care about what became of my life. I would also like to thank the Little League organization and the Little League Urban Initiative for sharing my vision to provide opportunities like I had to African-American youngsters who need it the most.”
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. Mr. 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: 2006 – Mike Flanagan, South Little League, Manchester, N.H.; 2005 – Larry Bowa, Land Park Little League, Sacramento, Calif.; 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.