In all likelihood no one from the '89 championship team will make it to the Yankees, but perhaps someday that Trumbull lineup will include a teacher, an orthopedic surgeon, a lawyer and a stockbroker, to mention just a few of their fields of interest. "It doesn't matter that we didn't turn out to be superstars," says Andy Paul. "It wouldn't be right if we were all still playing baseball together. We can still be good at whatever we're doing. This experience helped us do that."
Five years later only one of the players has turned out to be a superstar, but the sport he has chosen isn't baseball. For anyone who watched Chris Drury's performance in the championship game, in which he pitched a five-hitter and drove in two runs, it's difficult to imagine that he is no longer playing organized baseball.
And yet a couple of Sundays ago, as 10 of his former Little League teammates were enjoying their anniversary cake in Trumbull, Drury was scoring the winning goal in sudden-death overtime in the final game of the Chowder Cup hockey tournament in Stoneham, Mass., the culmination of this summer's New England Pro-Am Hockey League. He also earned MVP honors in the weekend-long competition between a team of top college players and prospects from Boston and a squad made up of all-stars from Canada.
Though Drury, who will be on a full hockey scholarship at Boston University this fall, has the talent to play Division I baseball, he says the decision to stick with hockey was made for him after he broke his wrist in high school. The injury made it impossible for him to play baseball in the spring of his junior year, which is the most important time in the college recruiting process. At the start of his senior year, the top hockey schools in the country came calling, and last November, Drury signed with BU. When he headed for Boston two months ago to begin a conditioning program and prepare for the summer league, he left his baseball glove behind. "I think I'll be too busy to miss baseball," he says.
In June, Drury was also chosen in the third round of the NHL draft by the Quebec Nordiques. Though the NHL Scouting Bureau had ranked him 113th overall, Drury was picked 72nd, the second U.S. high school player drafted. He was picked two rounds earlier than expected, in part because the scouts had been impressed with the way he had handled the pressure of the world series.
But even before he became a Little League hero, Drury was a national hockey champ. In April 1989 his Greater Bridgeport Pee Wee squad won the U.S. Amateur American Hockey Championship. "I wasn't even close to being one of the best players on that team," he says. "Seeing how good those kids were, I just wanted to reach that level."
Drury is like the kid in physics class who knows all the answers but chooses to keep them to himself. When he's asked about his high school accomplishments, there are long pauses between his comments, like intermissions between periods. Much like the rest of his family—especially his brother Ted, a center for the Hartford Whalers—Chris is unfailingly modest.
Of course he neglects to mention that he came within one point of Ted's alltime scoring record at Fairfield Prep with 188 points. "He would have broken Ted's record if one game during the season wasn't canceled because of snow," says Adolph Brink, Prep's assistant hockey coach. "But Chris never said a word about it. I brought it up one day, and he said, 'I don't care.' "
And Drury forgets to bring up this stat: In his final season of high school baseball last spring, he did not commit an error in 111 chances while playing every infield position except shortstop. He also hit .388, striking out only once in 67 at bats. "He has absolutely no ego," says Ed Rowe, Prep's baseball coach. "With all his success, his hat size hasn't changed." Not surprisingly, Drury doesn't volunteer this tidbit: His summer-league hockey team in Boston is coached by one of the best broadcasters in...baseball. "We don't talk about baseball," says Bruin coach Sean McDonough, who does enough chattering for both of them from the broadcast booth at Fenway Park, "because he's a Yankee fan."
The biggest Yankee fan from the '89 Trumbull National team is Dan McGrath, who now lives halfway across the globe and is halfway through his junior year at his high school in Malvern, Australia. McGrath, the leftfielder who caught a fly ball for the final out in the championship game, is certainly the only player who if given the opportunity to play college baseball in the U.S. will forgo a bright future in Australian Rules Football. Born in Australia, McGrath moved to Connecticut in 1985 when his father took a job near Trumbull. Four months after the big win in Williamsport, his father was transferred back to Australia.