In 1973, Cactus Little League (Tucson, Ariz.) traveled to South Williamsport for the 26th Little League Baseball® World Series (LLBWS). On the team was retired Major League Baseball (MLB) player Ed Vosberg, who led his team to the 1973 LLBWS Championship game against Chinese Taipei.
This was the first of three World Series the Tuscan-native would play in, making Mr. Vosberg the first Little League® graduate to play in the LLBWS, College Baseball World Series (1980; University of Arizona), and Major League Baseball World Series (1997; Florida Marlins).
First Inning: Looking back on Cactus Little League’s run in the 1973 LLBWS, what do you remember feeling at that time?
“It didn’t seem like it was real at all, it just seemed like a dream. It seemed like it happened so fast for us… It just seemed like a fantasy, like a fairy tale.”
- Eight teams participated in the 1973 LLBWS, including four from the United States and four International teams (British Columbia, Germany, Mexico, and Chinese Taipei).
- Cactus Little League beat the both the teams from New York (U.S. East) and Michigan (U.S. Central) before losing to Chinese Taipei in the championship, 12 to 0.
Second Inning: You went on to compete in the 1980 College World Series with the University of Arizona, what was that experience like?
“I didn’t realize how lucky we were going to be to go to the World Series when I was a freshman. We got there, we lost the first game, and then I got asked to pitch the second game which we had to win because it’s double elimination. It was just an amazing experience.”
- The University of Arizona’s 1980 College World Series appearance was the team’s 11th trip to the series. The team beat the University of Hawaii, 5-3, to win the school’s second national title.
- Vosberg earned second-team All-America honors and was named first-team All-Pac-10 during his college career and set Arizona career records for games started (60).
Third inning: What lessons from your Little League and college years do you think prepared you to play for eight different MLB clubs?
“It was all a part of the journey. It gave me confidence along the way, and it helped me realize life is about timing. I got to the big leagues at 24 and didn’t get back for a few years, but it made me realize that everything in our life worth anything might be a struggle, but giving up and quitting is the easy part. Sticking around and trying to persevere – it’s tougher. But Little League gave me confidence and college gave me confidence to realize, I could really do this if I really hang in there.”
- Vosberg was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1983. He made his first Major League debut for the Padres In 1986.
- Between 1983 and his last Major League appearance in 2002, Mr. Vosberg played for eight clubs, won the World Series championship in 1997, and the 1981 World Games in Santa Clara, California.
Fourth Inning: As you celebrate your 50th Anniversary of playing in the LLBWS, how do you feel today looking back on your time in the World Series and your career to follow?
“I can’t believe it’s been 50 years. I mean I still am lucky enough to work with kids now and I still throw a baseball almost every day. I feel very fortunate to be really healthy and, just looking back, it blows me away that its been 50 years.”
Mr. Vosberg says he does his best to stay in contact with his teammates from the Cactus Little League team and hopes to return to South Williamsport soon to experience the World Series as a Little League fan.
Fifth Inning: What are the biggest differences between the LLBWS when you played versus the event today?
“The biggest difference being the huge amount of notoriety and press, and everything being so magnified.”
In 1973, the only game televised from the LLBWS was the championship game. However, it was on a tape-delay and would air during the weekend. Mr. Vosberg says he had not watched any of Cactus Little League’s championship game against Chinese Taipei until the early 2000s, when a reporter from Philadelphia reach out to him with video of the game.
Sixth Inning: What advice do you have for the Little Leaguers® that will be coming to Williamsport, ready to take on teams from across the world?
“If you are lucky enough to get there, just enjoy the moment. Try to realize it is not just about winning and losing. It’s about how difficult it is to get there and if you are lucky enough to get there, just embrace it and enjoy.”
To learn more about the history of Little League, please check out LittleLeague.org/History.