When most people think about graduates of the Little League Baseball® World Series (LLBWS) who have gone on to professional sports careers, the first thing that comes to mind is typically the 50+ Major League Baseball players or even the other professional male athletes such as NASCAR’s Austin Dillon, NFL Quarterback Matt Cassel, and former NHL stars Chris Drury, Stephane Matteau, and Pierre Turgeon. In 1994, however, it was Brooklyn Park (Minn.) American Little League’s Krissy Wendell, who made history as the first girl to start at catcher in a LLBWS game and most recently has added another accolade to her list as an inductee into the 2019 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Since her time as a Little Leaguer playing on the baseball fields in Minnesota, Krissy has served as a role model to young women everywhere,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We are proud to see how she has continued to grow and inspire over the past 25 years and are honored to congratulate Krissy on this incredible achievement.”
With her performance in the 1994 LLBWS, Mrs. Wendell became the fifth girl, and one of only 19 ever, to have played in the LLBWS. In 2004, she became the first and only female LLBWS graduate to be enshrined into the Little League® Hall of Excellence, and is one of only six females to earn Little League’s highest honor, including the most recent enshrinement in 2019 by University of Washington Softball Head Coach Heather Tarr.
After her memorable experience in Williamsport, Mrs. Wendell went on to become one of the best women’s ice hockey players in U.S. history. In 2000, she was honored with the Minnesota Ms. Hockey award and five years later earned the 2005 Patty Kazmier Award as the best NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Player for her time at the University of Minnesota, becoming the first Minnesota player to earn the award after being named a finalist in both 2003 and 2004.
During her time playing at Minnesota, Mrs. Wendell also showed her skills on the international stage, representing Team USA in 147 total games while playing in six IIHF Women’s World Championships, including helping U.S. win its first-ever gold in 2005 as the team’s MVP.
In addition, Mrs. Wendell competed with Team USA at both the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Winter Games, serving as captain in 2006. During her nine-year stint (1998-2007) as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team program, Mrs. Wendell earned two distinguished USA Hockey honors including as the Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year in 2001 and the Bob Johnson Award for international excellence in both 2000 and 2005. As a member of Team USA, Mrs. Wendell earned one gold medal, six silvers, and one bronze in major international competition.
Mrs. Wendell will be officially inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on December 12 in Washington D.C., joining Gary Bettman, Brian Gionta, Neal Henderson, and Tim Thomas as the Class of 2019.
“It’s truly a remarkable Class,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “Each of the five inductees have their own unique and immeasurable contribution to our great game. They’re extremely deserving of the highest hockey honor in our country and we look forward to formally enshrining them into the Hall in December.”
U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees are chosen on the basis of extraordinary contribution to the sport of hockey in the United States. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame was incorporated in 1969 and inducted its first class in 1973. The Class of 2019 will be the 47th installed to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. To date, there are 182 enshrinees. For information on the members of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, visit USHockeyHallofFame.com.