There have been 14 people who have played in the Little League Baseball® World Series (LLBWS) to go on to appear in the MLB World Series. That elusive group has a new achievement, as Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash (1989 LLBWS) is now the first person to play in Williamsport and manage a team to the Fall Classic.
“As I went further into my career, I realized that the experience (at the Little League World Series) really did teach me how to handle a lot of high-pressure situations and being in the spotlight, not just as a young player, but as a person,” said Mr. Cash. “I’m not sure I appreciated the full scope of the experience when we were playing. But there is something there that helps you handle stressful situations as you got older. I think it really strengthened all of us and gave us experience and handling things in our entire lives, and not just with baseball.”
Mr. Cash went 2 for 7 in the 1989 World Series with a double and two runs scored. His team from Northside Little League in Tampa finished the series with a 2-1 record. The championship winning team from that year’s LLBWS, Trumbull (Conn.) National Little League, featured Chris Drury, who went on to win NHL’s Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
Since the first Little League Baseball World Series was played in 1947, there have been countless participants who have gone on to great baseball careers, and 59 have gone on to play Major League Baseball. “Legendary” Lloyd McClendon (1971 LLBWS) was the Bullpen Coach for the Detroit Tigers in the 2009 World Series. Yusmeiro Petit (San Francisco Giants, 2014), is the only person to be on teams to win both the Little League and Major League World Series last year.
Three players have appeared in the LLBWS, College World Series, and MLB World Series – Ed Vosberg, Jason Varitek, and Michael Conforto. Mr. Cash nearly made that list, playing in the 1998 and 1999 College World Series with his Florida State University team, and he has two World Series rings from his MLB playing days with the 2007 Boston Red Sox and 2009 New York Yankees, but he did not appear on either team’s World Series roster. Andrew Stevenson, who played in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series for Lafayette (Louisiana) LL and the 2013 and 2015 College World Series for Louisiana State University, played for the Washington Nationals in 2019, however he did not appear on their World Series roster.
Mr. Cash led the Rays to an American League-best record in the 2020 season, finishing 40-20 with the franchise’s first back-to-back playoff berths since 2010 and 2011. He was named the Sporting News A.L. Manager of Year for the second year in a row, just the sixth person to receive the honor in consecutive years.
In addition to Mr. Cash’s accomplishment, L.A. Dodgers’ outfielder Cody Bellinger will make his third World Series appearance in his four-year MLB career, hitting the deciding home run in Game 7 of the 2020 National League Championship Series. Mr. Bellinger competed in the 2007 LLBWS with his team from Chandler (Ariz.) National Little League.
The 2020 World Series will feature at least 13 players who got their baseball start at their local Little League fields.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Charlie Morton – Trumbull (Conn.) LL
- Brett Phillips – Seminole (Fla.) LL
- Blake Snell – Richmond (Wash.) LL
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Austin Barnes – Magnolia LL (Riverside, Calif.)
- Cody Bellinger – Chandler (Ariz.) National LL – 2007 LLBWS)
- Walker Buehler – Lexington (Ky.) Eastern LL
- Kenley Jansen – Pabao LL (Willemstad, Curacao) – 2003 SLBWS
- Joc Pederson – Palo Alto (Calif.) LL
- Julio Urias – Culiacan, Mexico
To learn more about notable Little League alumni, visit LittleLeague.org/Alumni. If you know of a former Little Leaguer who has gone on to have a successful and impactful career that is not currently listed on LittleLeague.org/Alumni, please email the name of the city, town, and league where they played Little League to [email protected].