Phillies Nation staffers remember time playing Little League Baseball

Though not at the same stadium, the Little League classic will take place in Williamsport. (GFDL/Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday evening, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets will play in the second annual Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa. This coincides with the annual Little League World Series tournament. It will also be the second time this season that the Phillies play on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

It got our staff to digging back into our parent’s photo collections to relive our Little League Baseball careers.

Brian Michael, CEO

Little League Baseball holds nothing but good memories for me.  I played at Torresdale Boys Club in Northeast Philly (Linden & Torresdale Aves.) from 1987-1992. I remember usually being the youngest (if not shortest) person on the team but I could hold my own.  One of my favorite memories comes from my early days of tee ball.  I was playing third base and someone hit a two-hopper my way.  I snagged it out of mid-air with my bare hand and threw dart to the first baseman for the 5-3 putout.  To this day, I remember people in the crowd yelling, “Wow, he’s just like Mike Schmidt!”  Hearing that made me so happy and for just a split-second I genuinely thought I was as good as Schmidty.  Since then, I’ve obviously regressed back to the mean, but I did make a few TBC All-Star teams along the way.

Tim Kelly, Editorial Director 

I played baseball from the time I was five years old through Connie Mack. At best, I profiled as a player like Billy Hamilton: an athlete playing baseball. I could field well in center field and steal bases, but I never really developed enough pop to be a good hitter. By high school, I focused my time on playing soccer and hurdling.

In any event, most Millenials that played baseball as kids probably feel a very similar way to me about their time playing the sport: when parents got out of the way and let kids play, it created a lifetime of memories. However, that often didn’t happen.

During my time playing baseball, I played for Lehigh Township Athletic Association in Cherryville, Pa. The most positive moment that sticks out for me is a playoff game against another local team that had beaten us by over 10 runs in the regular season. I remember the playoff game being on an extremely hot day, which were always days I loved to play sports on. In this game, I drove in five runs and pitched the middle innings. We overcome a six-run first inning deficit and won one of the more memorable sporting events of my life. Ironically, many of the people on the opposing team ended up in my graduation class in High School.

Batting stance modeled after Pat Burrell.

Matt Veasey, Staff Writer

My clearest youth baseball memory is the typical “little league home run” type of tale. I was playing with the EOM (Edward O’Malley) Athletic Association that still exists from the Second Street neighborhood where I grew up in South Philly. I had to be about 10-11 years old, so that would make it around 1972-73.

This particular game was at the Murphy Rec Center, a multi-field facility that changed over the decades but is still serving the community. It was played on their field situated at the corner of Third Street and Oregon Avenue. I clearly recall blasting a shot to deep center field, starting towards first base, and watching as the ball sailed over the center fielder’s head.

I scampered to second base for what I assumed would be a double. I never had much speed, even in those kid days. On arriving at second, I saw that the center fielder was taking longer than I thought to retrieve the ball, so decided to try for third. As I arrived at third base, the center fielder’s throw arrived, but got away from the third baseman. As the ball rolled out towards left field, our third base coach told me to run for home, and so I took off again.

As I arrived home, the throw from left field (I never saw if it was the third baseman or another player) sailed over the catcher’s head. I arrived safe with my “home run” and celebrated with cheers from my teammates.

This was the only home run that I would hit as a kid in a formal baseball game, though I hit plenty in schoolyard stick ball games. It was also one of only two that I would hit in a formal game in my entire life. The other came as a true over-the-fence shot as a 29-year-old men’s softball player. I still hold both as cherished memories.

The only picture available of Matt Veasey playing sports as a kid.

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