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William A. “Bill” Shea – Distinguished Little League Graduate Award

The Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award was established in 1987 to serve a two-fold purpose. First, and most importantly, the award is presented to a former Little Leaguer® in Major League Baseball who best exemplifies the spirit of Little League. Consideration for selection includes both the individual’s ability and accomplishments, and the individual’s status as a positive role model.

Secondly, the award was established in honor of the many contributions made to Little League and the game of baseball by Bill Shea, President of the Little League Foundation. Bill Shea is credited with bringing National League Baseball back to New York in the early 1960s while also working diligently for the advancement of Little League. Therefore, it is appropriate that a Little League award bearing his name be associated with Major League Baseball.

While not presented every year, the Bill Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award is typically presented during the week of the Little League Baseball® World Series held in August in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Previous Award Winners

  • 2020 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 2019 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2019.

  • 2018 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2018.

  • 2017 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2017.

  • 2016 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2016.

  • 2015 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 2015.

  • 2014 - Roy Smalley

    With a Major League Baseball shortstop as a father and an uncle who also played and managed in the big leagues, Roy Smalley III was born into baseball. Mr. Smalley used those lessons first learned from his father and uncle and as a Little Leaguer® at Westchester National Little League in Los Angeles, California, to become a professional athlete, a successful businessman, broadcaster, and advocate of youth baseball and softball through his work as the President of Pitch in for Baseball. To recognize those achievements, Mr. Smalley has been named the 2014 recipient of the William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award.

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  • 2013 - Joe Torre

    As a Major League Baseball executive, manager, and player, Joe Torre has been a baseball ambassador for more than six decades. Recognizing Mr. Torre’s achievements in baseball and his commitment to the betterment of children through the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, Little League® is proud to honor him as the 2013 William A. “Bill” Shea Little League Graduate of the Year recipient.

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  • 2012 - Jason Varitek

    Former Captain of the Boston Red Sox and two-time Major League Baseball World Series champion Jason Varitek was honored with the 2012 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award during the 66th Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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  • 2011 - Tom Glavine

    The 2011 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was former Major League pitcher Tom Glavine.

  • 2010 - Ron Darling

    During a 13-year Major League Baseball career, Ron Darling was an all-star, a Gold Glove winner, and World Series champion. As a baseball analyst for SportsNet New York (SNY) and Turner Sports’ coverage of Major League Baseball, Mr. Darling was presented the 2010 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award on Saturday, Aug. 28, prior to the United States Championship Game of the 64th Little League Baseball® World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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  • 2009 - Jeff Bagwell

    During a 15-year Major League Baseball career – all with the Houston Astros – Jeff  Bagwell was among an elite class of hitters, and in 1994, became the fourth National Leaguer to be unanimously selected as Most Valuable Player. While serving as the Astros Special Assistant to the General manager, Mr. Bagwell, was presented the 2009 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award during the 2009 Little League Baseball® World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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  • 2008 - Kent Tekulve

    Over a 10-year span from the late-1970s to the late-80s, Kent Tekulve, the former all-time leader in Major League Baseball relief pitching appearances, was one of the marquee names for the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates. Serving as a color analyst for Pirates telecasts on Fox Sports Net (FSN) in Pittsburgh, Mr. Tekulve, was presented the 2008 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award during the 62nd Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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  • 2007 - Torii Hunter

    Torii Hunter, all-star outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, was selected as the 2007 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award recipient.

    “Torii Hunter has distinguished himself as a player in the Major Leagues, but more so by the respect and support he has given to the next generation of baseball players through his generosity to the Little League Urban Initiative,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Growing up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Mr. Hunter embraced Little League. When his talent and determination allowed him to achieve his dream of playing baseball professionally, he proudly accepted the responsibility of being a role model for children, which makes us proud to honor him with this award.”

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  • 2006 - Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan, former Major League pitcher and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles, was presented the 2006 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award.

    Playing for South Little League in Manchester, New Hampshire, Mr. Flanagan participated in the Little League program for five years and was a two-time all-star pitcher and first baseman.

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  • 2005 - Larry Bowa

    Larry Bowa, former Major League manager and ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst, was presented the 2005 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award.

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  • 2004 - Billy Connors

    Billy Connors has been around baseball for his entire life, and the 58th Little League Baseball® World Series marked 50 years since his team was crowned a Little League® World Series champion, making it the perfect time to honor Mr. Connors as the 2004 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award in recognition of his enduring commitment to Little League and his success as a pitching coach in the major leagues.

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  • 2003 - Shawon Dunston

    The 2003 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Shawon Dunston.

  • 2002 - Tommy John

    Tommy John was presented with the 2002 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate Award. Mr. John played Little League during the 1950s in Terre Haute, Indiana, and served as a pitching coach for the Harrisburg Senators. His wife, Sally John, is a former member of the Little League Baseball International Board of Directors.

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  • 2001 - Orel Hershiser

    The 2001 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Orel Hershiser.

  • 2000 - George Brett

    George Brett, whose 20-year career with the Kansas City Royals landed him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was named the 2000 William A. “Bill” Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award winner.

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  • 1999 - Robin Yount

    The 1999 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Robin Yount.

  • 1998 - Don Sutton

    The 1998 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Don Sutton.

  • 1997 - Ken Griffey Sr.

    The 1997 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Ken Griffey Sr.

  • 1996 - No Award

    There was no award presented in 1996.

  • 1995 - Rock Monday

    The 1995 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Rock Monday.

  • 1994 - Len Coleman

    The 1994 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Len Coleman.

  • 1993 - Gary Carter

    The 1993 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Gary Carter.

  • 1992 - Steve Palermo

    The 1992 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Steve Palermo.

  • 1991 - Dave Dravecky

    The 1991 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Dave Dravecky.

  • 1990 - Jim Palmer

    The 1990 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Jim Palmer.

  • 1989 - Tom Seaver

    The 1989 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Tom Seaver.

  • 1988 - Steve Garvey

    The 1988 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Steve Garvey.

  • 1987 - Bobby Valentine

    The 1987 Bill Shea Distinguished Little League® Graduate of the Year recipient was Bobby Valentine.