Every summer, talented youngsters show off their baseball skills in the Little League World Series. For most of these children, their professional futures wind up being outside the diamond, but some use the annual showcase as a springboard to high school, college and even professional baseball.
The following chronicles 38 famous Little League World Series alumni who went on to do great things or achieve varying levels of fame.
The most recent little league player to captivate America was Mo’ne Davis, who dominated her largely male competition in the 2014 Little League World Series. Playing for her Philadelphia team, Davis was the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series, and she led her team all the way to the semifinals of the tournament. With a fastball that clocked out at an amazing 71 mph (the equivalent of a 93 mph pitch in the majors), Davis became a national celebrity by the end of the tournament, as she made appearances on "The Tonight Show," the cover of Sports Illustrated and was even praised by the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
Before starring for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger starred in the 2007 Little League World Series for Chandler, Arizona. Unfortunately his team was ousted in the quarterfinals. He's now an NL MVP candidate sharing time between first base and the outfield for the Dodgers.
Kingery had a breakout season for the Philadelphia Phillies last year while playing all over the diamond and this season is batting a respectable .275. Prior to his pro career, he made a name for himself in the 2006 Little League World Series representing Phoenix, Arizona.
As a member of the 2004 championship team from Curacao, current Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar led his team back to the 2005 finals, where it lost to Ewa Beach, Hawaii. The 25-year-old Profar was a top shortstop prospect for Texas before injuries slowed his development and was a mainstay on the big club before moving to Oakland this season.
The do-it-all man Christian Bethancourt played in the 2004 LLWS representing his home nation of Panama before making it to the majors with stints with the Braves, Padres and Brewers. Bethancourt’s Panama team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but since then the 27-year-old has already played pitcher, catcher and outfielder in the majors.
At 26, New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto made his first MLB All-Star Game in 2017, but before his success at the MLB level and stardom at Oregon State, he represented his Redmond North little league team in the 2007 LLWS. His team didn't make it to the finals, but Conforto has become one of the most promising young players for the Mets.
The 27-year-old Toronto Blue Jays outfielder reached double digits in home runs for three years in a row with the Cardinals and is continuing that trend in Toronto. Prior to that, Grichuk was on a LLWS team that fell in the quarterfinals of the 2004 tournament.
Minnesota Twins infielder Jonathan Schoop represented his home nation of Curacao in both the 2003 and 2004 Little League World Series. In fact, Schoop and his Curacao team won the 2004 Little League World Series championship, which has done wonders to promote baseball in the tiny island nation. Schoop was an All-Star for the first time in 2017 while with the Orioles.
Current Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis hit at least .300 in his first couple of seasons with Toronto and has remained steady despite an injury that limited his 2017 season. Travis was also part of the 2003 Boynton Beach, Florida LLWS team that won the U.S. Championship in that year's tournament but ultimately lost in the finals.
Austin Dillon currently has the unique distinction of being the only LLWS alumnus to be an active driver on the NASCAR circuit. The 29-year-old Dillon was part of the Forsyth County, North Carolina team that competed in, but was ultimately eliminated early from, the 2002 LLWS.
Perhaps the most infamous Little League World Series player of all time, pitcher Danny Almonte became a national sensation when he utterly dominated his competition in the 2001 Little League World Series. Although his New York City squad lost to a team from Florida, Almonte captured the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was even given a key to the city by then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Unfortunately, it was later revealed that Almonte, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had his official age doctored. Almonte was 14 years old, not 12 years old as documentation stated. Sadly, several adults had taken advantage of young Danny and his talents for their own personal gains.
New York Mets infielder Ruben Tejada was a member of the 2001 Panamanian Little League team that represented the Latin American region at that year's Little League World Series. Tejada’s side failed to make it out of group play, but a career in the majors surely makes up for that.
Texas Rangers pitcher Lance Lynn was a member of the 1999 Brownsburg, Indiana squad that appeared in that year's Little League World Series. Although Lynn’s team was quickly eliminated from the competition, surely the World Series ring he won in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals makes up for it.
Colby Rasmus, who played for the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Astros, Rays and Orioles, was part of the 1999 Phenix City, Alabama team that made it all the way to the championship game of the year's LLWS. Although Rasmus' team lost to Japan 5-0, Rasmus more than held his own, batting .417 and recording seven strikeouts over the course of the tournament.
Playing on the same team as his brother Colby, former Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus took a backseat to his older brother during the 1999 Little League World Series. Nonetheless, Cory pitched four years in the majors and is currently a free agent.
Saunders played in the majors for nine years, even making the All-Star team in 2016 with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1999, Saunders played for Victoria, British Columbia in the LLWS. His team did not advance, but it was the start of what proved to be a successful baseball career.
Current New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier played in and won the Little League World Series in 1998 as a member of the team from Toms River, New Jersey. The two-time All-Star slugger was the winning pitcher in the championship game and went 4-for-4 from the plate as well.
Former Mets, Pirates, Nationals and White Sox outfielder Lastings Milledge was a key player in his Bradenton, Florida little league team that made it all the way to the 1997 LLWS national semifinals.
Current Detroit Lions backup quarterback Matt Cassel was introduced to the national spotlight through a sport other than football. Cassel was part of the Northridge, California team that reached the Little League World Series final back in 1994. Cassel continued to play baseball until his senior year of high school when he committed to play quarterback at the University of Southern California.
A's pitcher Yusmeiro Petit was part of the 1994 LLWS team from Maracaibo, Venezuela, that won that year's championship. Twenty years later, Petit played a key role in leading the Giants to the 2014 World Series title.
His MLB career may never have taken off, but as far as LLWS stars go, there was none brighter than Sean Burroughs when he led Long Beach to back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993. Burroughs was a monster at the plate and on the mound (he threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1992) and even made an appearance on David Letterman's show. He did spend parts of seven seasons in MLB, last appearing with the Twins in 2012.
Former MLB starting pitcher Jason Marquis threw a no-hitter in the Little League World Series for his Staten Island, New York team in the 1991 third-place game. Marquis later won a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
Former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington's first love was actually basketball, a fact that makes it even more odd that the former two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year experienced his first true success in sports playing baseball. Pennington was part of the Hamilton, Ohio, little league squad that made it to the quarterfinals of the 1991 LLWS.
Three-time MLB All-Star Jason Bay helped his British Columbia, Canada team reach the LLWS in 1990. One of the greatest Canadian-born baseball players ever, Bay announced his retirement from the game in 2014.
Former MLB catcher and current manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Cash was a member of the Northside, Florida team that made it to Williamsport in 1989. Cash’s team was eliminated early on in the tournament.
The winner of the 1999 Calder Trophy, former NHL forward Chris Drury was a member of the 1989 Trumbull, Connecticut, LLWS championship team. Drury likely made a wise choice by swapping his bat for a hockey stick, as he scored 255 goals over his NHL career.
Longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek led his Almonte Springs, Florida, team all the way to the finals of the 1984 LLWS. Unfortunately, Varitek’s group lost 6-2 to South Korea in the finals. Still, two World Series championship victories with the Red Sox have likely made the memory of losing in the Little League World Series finals fade just a bit for Varitek.
The man New York Rangers hockey fans will forever remember for scoring the game-winning goal that sent the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, forward Stephane Matteau also played in the 1982 LLWS, representing his hometown of Rouyn, Quebec. Still, Matteau’s appearance in the 1982 LLWS is a mere footnote compared to his key role in helping the Rangers win the 1994 Stanley Cup.
A former NHL All-Star, Turgeon played in the 1982 Little League World Series for his hometown team of Rouyn, Quebec, along with fellow future NHL player Stephane Matteau.
Former MLB outfielder Derek Bell played in both the 1980 and 1981 LLWS for his hometown Tampa Bay, Florida, team. Although Bell failed to win an LLWS crown, he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays team that won the 1992 World Series.
Nine-time MLB All-Star Gary Sheffield first burst onto the national scene in 1980 when he led the Belmont Heights Little League All-Stars all the way to finals of that year's Little League World Series. Although Sheffield’s team lost 4-3 to Taiwan in the finals, Sheffield went on to have a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career in the majors.
Before he caught the final out of the 1996 World Series with the Yankees, Hayes represented Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the 1977 LLWS.
Before NHL forward Ray Ferraro earned the nickname “Big Ball of Hate,” he was an adolescent boy playing for his hometown of Trail, British Columbia in the 1976 LLWS. Ferraro debuted in the NHL at age of 20 and played 18 years in the league, scoring a total of 408 goals.
Former Pirates and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who is currently the hitting coach for the Tigers, has been around baseball for the vast majority of his life. McClendon played for the 1971 Gary, Indiana LLWS team and even earned the nickname “Legendary Lloyd” after he homered in five straight at-bats in the tournament. He played eight years in the majors before becoming a manager in 2001.
An MLB All-Star in 1988, former Angels, Red Sox and Athletics first baseman Carney Lansford enjoyed a successful 15-year career in the majors. Before he made it to big time, however, the 1981 American League batting champion represented Santa Clara, California, in the 1969 LLWS.
The MVP of the 1980 NFL season, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe got his start in athletics playing baseball. Sipe was part of the El Cajon, California, little league team that won the 1961 LLWS championship. Although he had a string of superb seasons for the Browns in the late '70s and early '80s, Sipe and the Browns made the NFL playoffs only once during his career.
A two-time All-Star pitcher who played 18 MLB seasons, Rick Wise first came to prominence as a member of the 1958 Little League World Series from Portland, Oregon. His team lost in the opening round, but Wise won 188 MLB games and retired with a 3.69 career ERA.
Before he became the 1970 American League MVP, four-time All-Star and two-time World Series winner, Baltimore Orioles great Boog Powell played in the 1954 Little League World Series for the Lakeland, Florida team. Powell played 17 years in the majors, amassing 339 home runs and nearly 1,200 RBI.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.