Thursday Notebook: Twins’ Hunter and Orioles’
Hawkins Visit Williamsport
By Brandon Miller
The Little League Baseball World Series witnessed a rare occurrence
today when current Major League Baseball (MLB) players Torii Hunter
and LaTroy Hawkins visited Williamsport in support of the Little
League Urban Initiative and the Torii Hunter Project.
Since the World Series is played during the MLB season, it’s not
often that active players get to attend, but that doesn’t stop them
from keeping a close eye on the action.
“In Major League Baseball, Little League players are like heroes,”
said Hunter. “We go into the clubhouse and watch Little League
games. Some of these guys have the Major League demeanor in them
Hunter’s program landed four teams at the Little League World Series
this year to compete in two games on Thursday and two on Saturday
prior to the U.S. and International Championships. They are: Pelham
Parkway Little League from Bronx, N.Y.; North Richmond Little League
from Richmond, Va.; Wilkinsburg Little League from Pittsburgh, Pa.;
and Walter Pop Smith Little League from New Haven, Conn.
“I can only imagine how these kids feel, just being around the
Little League World Series,” said Hunter. “You see it on TV all the
time. I’m 31 years old and I’m excited. I don’t even want to go back
to (my ballgame) today.”
“I think the pitching now is exceptional. They’ve had some great
pitchers in the last couple years in the Little League World
Series,” said Hawkins. “I’ve watched them throw with velocity and
breaking pitches. Kids back in the day threw hard, but these kids
now have the whole package.”
Earlier in the day, when the Hunter and Hawkins met with the four
participants of the Urban Initiative games, one young player was so
excited it was almost too much to bear.
“This one guy was hyperventilating. He was covering his face and I
thought he was crying. I’m like, ‘I’m not Britney Spears,’ said
Hunter. “It was pretty impressive just to see the reaction from some
of these kids. They were pretty pumped up to see some Major League
The Little League Urban Initiative, which began in 2000, provides
assistance packages to eligible leagues in the form of equipment,
grants, field development and renovation, Little League training
programs, advocacy, and networking.
The Torii Hunter Project’s mission is to “Increase the opportunities
for America’s youth to enjoy the game of baseball in inner cities
and beyond, and to provide an equal playing field for everyone,
regardless of race, ethnicity and skill level.”
Torii Hunter, currently of the Minnesota Twins, is a five-time MLB
Gold Glove winner and played for Pine Bluff National Little League
in Pine Bluff, Ark.
LaTroy Hawkins, currently of the Baltimore Orioles, played for Gary
Telleston Little League in Gary, Ind.
New Hampshire talks to Sox
Wednesday evening, during the first U.S. Semifinal game, the New
England champs from Portsmouth, New Hampshire gathered inside Little
League headquarters to take a conference call from the Boston Red
Sox, who were in Anaheim for a three-game series.
Gabe Kapler, Eric Hinske, Jonathan Papelbon and Javy Lopez were
among the players on the call who wished New Hampshire well in their
upcoming game. The call was capped off by David Ortiz, who elicited
wide smiles and subtle cheers from the kids.
Dontrelle’s Mom throws First Pitch
Joyce Guy, winner of the George and Barbara Bush Little League
Parent of the Year Award, was in attendance to throw out the first
pitch of the second U.S. Semifinal game featuring the New England
All-Stars versus the Southeast All-Stars.
Guy, clad in a Florida Marlins number 25 jersey, is the mother of
MLB pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Perhaps taking after her son, Guy
tossed a perfect strike, resulting in a chorus of cheers from the
The Parent of the Year Award is named after former President Bush,
and his wife Barbara, for their role as volunteers during their
children’s youth, and their continued support of Little League.
Some past recipients of the award have been the parents of San Diego
Padres closer Trevor Hoffman and the parents of New York Yankees
shortstop Derek Jeter.
© 2006, Little League Baseball
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