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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2009 > May - August > Former National League MVP Jeff Bagwell to Receive Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award

Former National League MVP Jeff Bagwell to Receive Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award

Former National League MVP Jeff Bagwell to Receive Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award

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During a 15-year Major League Baseball career - all with the Houston Astros - Jeff  Bagwell was among an elite class of hitters, and in 1994, became the fourth National Leaguer to be unanimously selected as Most Valuable Player. Now as the Astros Special Assistant to the General manager, Mr. Bagwell, will be presented the 2009 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award during the 63rd Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Aug. 21-30.

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. Consideration for selection includes both the individual’s ability and accomplishments and that person’s status as a positive role model.

“Jeff Bagwell played the game for its enjoyment and he had the talent to make baseball his career,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Now as a member of the Astros’ front office, he is engaged in player development and serves as a talent evaluator, while continuing he charitable endeavors.”

Lending his time and name to many worthwhile organizations that aid and benefit children, Mr. Bagwell has been active with the Children’s Miracle Network and is a strong supporter of the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. He has established the Jeff Bagwell Foundation that supports many child-related causes including research for pediatric cancer.

“For Mr. Bagwell, baseball has been a life-long ambition, and his drive to play the game at the highest level required personal commitment and fortitude that was learned while playing Little League,” Mr. Keener said. “His transition from playing to teaching skills and mentoring young players has brought him full circle with the experiences and enthusiasm enjoyed during his Little League days. Jeff’s athletic prowess coupled with his desire to assist in the lives of children makes us are proud to honor him with this award.”

Playing in Killingworth (Conn.) Little League, Mr. Bagwell, now 41, participated in the Little League program for four years, pitching and playing shortstop. In three of his four years, Mr. Bagwell participated in the Little League International Tournament, but his teams never advanced out of district play.

“As soon as I could walk, I wanted to play baseball,” Mr. Bagwell said. “My dad (Robert) was my Little League coach all four years, and I was a better-than-average player. I remember hitting a few home runs, but when I got to the bigger diamonds things went backwards. In high school, I was average, and just a good college player, but I still got drafted and made the big leagues.”

In his current role with the Astros, Mr. Bagwell assists the club’s baseball operations staff with its Major and Minor League player development programs, the Astros’ hitting development program, the amateur player draft, scouting and minor league team operations and evaluations.

BillSheaAward09_JeffBagwellBatting_400px“I loved putting on my Little League uniform and going to play,” Mr. Bagwell said. “As I got older, every time I put on my uniform it was exciting. When I talk to young players, I tell them, ‘If baseball is what you want to do, go practice, play hard, keep plugging away and don’t give up.’”

Mr. Bagwell, a native New Englander who was born in Boston, and graduated from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He was drafted by his hometown Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1989 amateur player entry draft. After signing with the Red Sox organization in 1989, Mr. Bagwell went on to win the Double-A Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

By 1990, the stout 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed slugger had put himself on the fast track to the Majors, but in the midst of a pennant race, the Red Sox decided to trade its top prospect to the Astros for pitcher Larry Andersen.

“I cried when the Red Sox took me,” Mr. Bagwell said of being drafted by his favorite team. “When I got traded to Houston, I had already played a year-and-a-half in the Minors. It was more devastating for my parents than me, because by then I knew I could play at the Major League level.

“When I was in Little League, I cried one time when I struck out and my dad benched me,” Mr. Bagwell said. “That moment taught me about adversity and that things aren’t always going to go your way. When you’re a kid you just play, and that’s what I did, from Little League all the way up to the Majors. I got to be a better player as I got older, and things worked out for me.”

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