Work in Sports
Little big leaguers
Little League World Series paved way to majors for some
By Ryan Hunt and Lonny Krasnow
Jim Barbieri had 82 major league at-bats. Boog Powell had 339 major league home runs.
Together, however, their careers are intertwined like a strand of DNA.
Barbieri and Powell are two of 22 players who have played in the Little League World Series then went on to reach the majors.
Amazingly, eight of the 22 (36 percent) -- including Barbieri and Powell -- made it to the major league World Series as well.
But Barbieri and Powell managed to accomplish the feat in the same years, playing each time for different teams.
Powell, one of the Orioles' most famed players, played in the 1954 Little League World Series for Lakeland, Fla. Barbieri played for Schenectady, N.Y, which defeated Colton, Calif., for the '54 title.
Twelve years later, Powell's Orioles defeated Barbieri's Dodgers in a sweep of the 1966 World Series. Barbieri had one pinch-hit appearance in that series, which turned out to be his last big league at-bat.
That 1954 Little League World Series proved to be a breeding ground for future major leaguers. There were five players who went on to play in the majors, the most of any year.
Carl Taylor, who had a six-year big league career, teamed with Powell on the Lakeland team, while Bill Connors was a member of Barbieri's winning team from Schenectady. The 1962 National League rookie of the year, Ken Hubbs of the Cubs, also participated in the '54 series.
Twenty-seven years later, Derek Bell and Gary Sheffield, two of the National League's premier outfielders, were teammates on the 1980 team from Tampa, Fla., that made it to Williamsport. Bell also made it to the Little League World Series the following year as well, making him the only major leaguer to play in the event twice.
Bell's team lost in the finals both year. But Bell, who is now with the New York Mets, finally earned a championship ring as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992.
Charlie Hayes, Carney Lansford, Ed Vosberg and Rick Wise are the only other major leaguers to play in both World Series. Vosberg is the only player to also play in the College World Series, doing so at the University of Arizona.
Four major leaguers (Barbieri, Connors, Hector Torres and Marc Pisciotta) have won a Little League World Series championship. But Barbieri remains the only major leaguer to win a Little League World Series and play in the World Series.
The NHL and NFL has had its share of representation in the Little League World Series, as well.
Chris Drury pitched Trumbull, Conn., to the Little League World Series title 11 years ago. Last year, Drury was the NHL rookie of the year with the Colorado Avalanche. Current NHLers Pierre Turgeon (St. Louis Blues) and Stephane Matteau (San Jose Sharks) also played in Williamsport.
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe was a member of the 1963 championship team from El Cajon, Calif. Former NFL quarterback Turk Schonert also played in the LLWS.