Showing posts with label Little League. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little League. Show all posts


Matt Riley, 2001 Bowman

Name: Matt Riley
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Position: Pitcher
Value of card: One fake Matt Riley autograph (or, for that matter, one real Matt Riley autograph)
Key 2000 stat: 232 fewer strikeouts than in Little League in 1994
It's true, we tells ya: We could spend a few hundred words wasting your time writing about how this ridiculous card features an Aryan cyborg sent from the year 2137 with eyes that shoot blue lasers and a chin that's so sharp it can cut through diamonds, but, instead, we'll tell you a true story about Mr. Riley. When he was 15, he was on a varsity high school baseball team in the Bay Area but still played on a Little League team when schedules didn't conflict. Needless to say, he was the best pitcher in the Little League senior major division, and probably the best hitter, too. He threw about 92 mph, which at 14, the age of most of the league's players, looked like 192. One of the monkeys here at The Bust played in that league. Here's a play-by-play of the first at-bat against Riley:

Pitch 1: 10,000-mph fastball down the middle for a strike; swing physically impossible; fear courses through body.
Pitch 2: Curve ball heads straight for helmet's ear hole, forcing a dive to the ground, before ball bends over the heart of the plate for a called strike.
Pitch 3: 14,000-mph fastball that somehow moves much like a "Dusty Diamond All-Star Softball" pitch from a witch, for a swinging strike three, though the swing barely crosses the plate and looks as if it were powered by two pieces of cooked spaghetti.

And here's a play-by-play of the second at-bat against Riley:

Pitch 1: 17,500-mph fastball becomes a heat-seeking missile, zeroes in on rib cage, knocks wind out of scared middle-schooler, puncturing the flesh, but not nearly as much as the boy's ego; Riley would strike out the next three batters, stranding the runner at first.

And the third at-bat?

Pitch 1: Thrown to another player because the coach figured the kid had been through enough that day.


Frank Thomas, 1993 Donruss Triple Play Little Hotshots

Name: Frank Thomas
Team: Lions
Position: Third grade
Value of card: Two cat's eye marbles
Key 1992 stat: 17 embarrassing childhood photos in circulation
Lions' scouting report on 10-year-old Frank Thomas: "Good kid with a great smile, but he has a vicious Twizzlers addiction. ... Has the heart of a Lion, which, technically, is true of all our kids. ... We can see him using a smaller glove when he's a 6-foot-5 big league first baseman in 15 years. ... Must-have skill: looks great in mesh. ... Easily the cutest kid in his class, which can be more important than baseball skills. ... Looking at dimples, he should end up a lady killer. ... If we're to believe this photo, he has experience playing ball in the middle of a forest. ... Got a VG+ in cursive handwriting, according to Ms. Coverdale. Impressive. ... Ownership needs to take into account that he can't play night games, given 'supper time.' ... Little Lizzy Vignola passed us a note saying she has a crush on him. This could prove to be a distraction. ... Even at age 10 has more power than Ron Karkovice."


Todd Day, 1992 Star Pics

Name: Todd Day
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Position: Pinch bunter
Value of card: One hour of child labor
Key 1991 stat: 85 times hit by pitches
Kids get hit by the darndest things: Inspired by the legend of Eddie Gaedel, a dwarf who pinch-hit in a major league game, Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley decided to pull his own publicity stunt in 1991, signing 10-year-old Todd Day to make one pinch-hitting appearance in an early-season game against the St. Louis Cardinals. But what was meant to be a light-hearted moment took a serious turn when a confused Tommy Lasorda ordered Day to sacrifice bunt Eddie Murray to second. Day, who had never bunted before, awkwardly grasped both ends of his miniature bat, straddled the plate and was subsequently drilled in the chest by Bob Tewksbury. Lasorda, never one to quickly give up on a prospect, proceeded to start Day the next 30 games, convincing O'Malley he was actually Darryl Strawberry. Day was forced to bunt every at-bat, and was plunked 85 consecutive times. He got a sac bunt down on his 86th try and was summarily released by the Dodgers. Slightly brain-damaged and terrified of open fields, there was only one career path left for Day to follow: professional basketball.



Manny Ramirez, 1992 Topps Draft Pick

Name: Manny Ramirez
Team: Poughkeepsie Youth Service League All-Stars
Positions: Outfielder, infielder, pitcher
Value of card: One forged birth certificate
Key 1991 stat: One Little League World Series championship
Suspicion in Williamsport: The Little League World Series — an American classic that celebrates diversity, competition and the spirit of baseball. But in 1991, a dark cloud of suspicion hung over Williamsport, Pa., home of the summer tradition. The East Region champions from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., were led by a rather large 13-year-old named Manny. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound youngster threw an amazing 80-mph fastball and excelled at every defensive position. The parents and managers of opposing teams repeatedly expressed doubt that Manny was as young as he said, but Manny's wispy moustache, carefree attitude and — most importantly — birth certificate all gave the impression of an early adolescent. Manny was allowed to play and led the Youth Service League All-Stars to a rousing World Series championship, batting .904 with 57 home runs and 140 RBI. No team came within 30 runs of the champs. After the title-clinching game, instead of being carried off the field, he carried six of his teammates off it. But two months later, the shameful truth came out. After being drafted by the Cleveland Indians, media reports revealed that the "youngster" was not 13 years old. He was in fact 15, and had been on human growth hormone since 1984. Disgraced, Manny gave back his Little League World Series ring and never did steroids again.