The Little League World Series version of the “O”dds and Ends Roundup teaches us a few things about Orioles past and present:
(1) In a rare form of sports irony, LaTroy Hawkins’ off-field performance is something to boast about, even when his on-the-field performance isn’t.
(2) Mike Flanagan was a Little League star before moving on to bigger and better things like the 1979 Cy Young Award.
(3) They were pining away this week in Pennsylvania for Rick Dempsey and his famous rain delay routines. As Baseball Library notes, the 1983 World Series MVP who caught more games than anyone else in franchise history had a father who was a Vaudeville actor and a mother who was a Broadway star.
On to the Roundup:
He’s Better Than Advertised (Washington Post)
In Hawkins, 33, the Orioles have one of the most socially conscious and charitable players in the game, and yet under a blanket of blunt backtalk he has gained a mostly unsavory reputation.
“I think he’s misunderstood and people go about what they read,” said Hawkins’s best friend, Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter. “One guy might write something bad, and then ‘Bam!’ it’s over with. The pen is mightier than anything. Once somebody writes something about you, it sticks with people’s view of you no matter what. When people think of LaTroy Hawkins, they think he doesn’t like the media, and that the fans hate him.”
Most U.S. teams at the Little League World Series hail from white suburbs, but all the players in the Wilkinsburg-New Haven game were black. Torii Hunter, center fielder of the Minnesota Twins, brought them to the series as part of Little League’s Urban Initiative, which is designed to get more city kids playing ball each summer.
Mr. Hunter and nine other major leaguers also paid the way for two other teams, from the Bronx, N.Y., and North Richmond, Va., to play exhibitions at the series.
“We need to do this,” Mr. Hunter, 31, said after greeting the boys from Wilkinsburg. “I played youth baseball in Pine Bluff, Ark., but it’s not around anymore and I see kids getting in trouble.”
Joining him at the series was LaTroy Hawkins of the Baltimore Orioles, another pro who helped fund Little League’s Urban Initiative.
The two players share the same agent. They were talking one day during the off-season about what could be done to reverse the trend of fewer kids in U.S. cities playing baseball.
“Torii had the idea to support the Urban Initiative by bringing them here,” Mr. Hawkins said. “I thought it was a good one.”
Little League a major hit (Spokesman Review)
Hunter and Orioles reliever LaTroy Hawkins took a short flight from Baltimore, where the Twins and Orioles were playing a midweek series, to promote “The Torii Hunter Project” and the Little League Urban Initiative, programs designed to encourage more children in urban areas to play baseball.
For at least a couple of hours, they felt like kids again.
Hall of Famer Brock has “fireside chat” with Missouri Team (Sports Illustrated)
Baltimore Orioles executive Mike Flanagan will also be honored with the William A. Shea Distinguished Little League Graduate Award on Aug. 27, the final day of the tournament. Flanagan played Little League in Manchester, N.H.
Rainout muddies LL waters (Pennsylvania Live)
Little League officials told Mike Flanagan, scheduled to receive this year’s distinguished graduate award, to stay home in Baltimore because bad weather figured to wash out his ceremony.
Upon reflection, they probably should have told him to come anyway and bring Baltimore Orioles coach Rick Dempsey to drenched Lamade Stadium.
We needed Dempsey, baseball’s most renowned rain delay entertainer, during yesterday’s soggy and ultimately futile Little League World Series championship game vigil.