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Chris Drury, Former National Hockey League Standout, Elected to Little League International Board of Directors

Chris Drury, Former National Hockey League Standout, Elected to Little League International Board of Directors

Past Little League Baseball World Series Champion, Hall of Excellence Enshrinee Assumes Seat at Annual Meeting


Chris Drury

A humble pursuit of excellence has defined Chris Drury since his childhood. Therefore, it’s fitting that his next step following the conclusion of a remarkable National Hockey League career was to provide his insight and experience to the largest youth sports organization in the world as a member of the Little League International Board of Directors.

As a child, Mr. Drury’s diversity in sports was equaled by his success on the baseball field as a pitcher and catcher during his years in Trumbull (Conn.) National Little League, and later as he established himself as one of the elite ice hockey players in the world.

“Playing Little League molded me,” Mr. Drury, who completed a 12-year career, including the final four as Captain of the New York Rangers, said. “I had so many good coaches in Little League. They taught me about sportsmanship, and Little League is where I really learned to compete.”

Mr. Drury’s skill and fortitude converged on Aug. 26, 1989. That day, he went to the mound at Howard J. Lamade Stadium to pitch the Championship Game of the 43rd Little League Baseball World Series versus Far East Region Champion Kang-Tu Little League from Chinese Taipei. Mr. Drury and his Trumbull National Little League teammates were tasked with stopping a five-year losing streak for the United States, which included three straight defeats to teams from Chinese Taipei.

Having already recorded a pitching victory in the World Series, Mr. Drury was comfortable with facing down his opponent, and his team was up to the challenge, as Trumbull National Little League defeated Chinese Taipei, 5-2, to win the world championship.

Mr. Drury earned the mound win in the championship game victory, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks, with two strikeouts. At the plate, he was equally productive, collecting two hits in three at-bats, driving in two runs and stealing a base.

“A willingness to positively influence others and make a difference on every play was nurtured from Chris Drury’s first Little League practice,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Chris’s drive to excel and his depth of character have been evident throughout his Little League days, a collegiate career at Boston University that culminated with him receiving the Hobey Baker award as the best player in NCAA Division I Hockey; and his 12 years in the NHL. Drawing on his experiences in Little League and applying them to his professional and personal life has provided Chris with a unique acumen, and we are proud to welcome him to the board.”

“I am honored to have the chance to serve on the Little League International Board of Directors,” Mr. Drury said. “To give back to the organization that has meant so much to me, my family and friends is a huge thrill.”

In the 1989 Series, Mr. Drury collected two pitching wins; and was 4-for-7 at the plate, with three singles, a double and three bases on balls.

“We exceeded expectations by getting to Williamsport,” Mr. Drury, whose team didn’t make it out of district play the year before, said. “A team from our town had never won a single game in the state tournament, so when we won the state and regional, everyone was blown away from that.

“We didn’t get much respect coming from New England,” Mr. Drury said. “It was a huge thrill playing other teams from around the world. I remember driving down the road on our bus (a six-hour ride from Connecticut), I caught a glimpse of Lamade Stadium and said to myself, ‘Holy cow! This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ It was an amazing feeling being at the World Series.”

After winning the Little League Baseball World Series, Mr. Drury was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for Game Two of the 1989 Major League Baseball World Series, and later that year, he met President George H.W. Bush.

“We had no idea how huge this was,” Mr. Drury said of his team’s post-World Series euphoria. “When we won the game, it was on TV, but I still hadn’t seen a newspaper or the TV news.

“Winning kicked in for me, when we flew home on chartered plane provided by Donald Trump,” Mr. Drury said. “On the bus ride home from the airport, 15 fire trucks and 40 police cars were out in front of us, and we all thought, ‘We must have just missed the biggest accident ever.’ What was going on was an escort for us into town and a huge parade.”

Mr. Drury played baseball throughout high school, graduating from Fairfield (Conn). Prep in 1994. During this time, he also was developing into an elite amateur hockey player, winning a youth championship at the age of 12, and later a state title while at Fairfield Prep.

Mr. Drury and his older brother, Ted, are the only Fairfield Prep graduates to have their number retired; both wore No. 18. Ted, and Mr. Drury’s other brother, Jim, also are Little League graduates.

Drafted out of high school by the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques, Mr. Drury elected to attend Boston University (BU), where in 1995, as a freshman, he won the NCAA Division I Ice Hockey National Championship. By the end of collegiate career, he was the first BU player to eclipse 100 goals and assists (113 and 100 respectively). As BU’s captain in 1998, Mr. Drury was recognized as the Hobey Baker Award winner.

Mr. Drury played for the Colorado Avalanche, winning Rookie of the Year honors during the 1998-99 season, as well as the Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. He won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. Mr. Drury was a three-time member of the United States hockey team (2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games).

In 892 career NHL games with Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo and the Rangers, Drury had 255 goals and 615 points. Even more impressive was his knack for making the big play at the key time. Drury scored 47 game-winning goals in the regular season, but he really made his mark in the postseason, where he had 17 game-winners.

Mr. Drury is the only player to be selected as college hockey’s best player and the NHL’s top rookie. Following the 2007 NHL season, Mr. Drury signed a free agent contract with the New York Rangers and chose to wear No. 23 in honor of his childhood hero, former New York Yankees first baseman, Don Mattingly. In October 2008, Mr. Drury was named Rangers’ Captain, the 25th in team history, and only the second U.S.-born player to be so honored.

With all of his accomplishments to date, Mr. Drury said he does have many fond memories of his Little League days and his team’s journey to the Little League Baseball World Series championship.

“The one picture I have is of me jumping in the air right after we won the World Championship,” Mr. Drury said. “For me, that picture is symbolic. It sums up the ecstasy of that whole summer.”

Mr. Drury resides in New York City with his wife and three children.