Monday, December 12, 2016
How Little League® Grad Michael Conforto Made Baseball History
In all of sports, there are few clubs that are as exclusive as the “World Series Slam” - players who have competed in the Little League Baseball®, College, and Major League Baseball World Series. That fraternity added a member when the New York Mets completed a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series as rookie Michael Conforto became just the third person in the history of baseball to play in all three major World Series tournaments, joining Ed Vosberg and Jason Varitek.
Mr. Conforto was one the key contributors on the 2004 Northwest Region Championship team from Redmond North Little League from Redmond, Wash. He ﬁnished the tournament tied for ﬁfth in batting average, going 6-for-10 from the plate in three games. In his ﬁrst game of the Little League Baseball World Series, he faced off against fellow current MLB outﬁelder, Randal Grichuk, who played in both the 2003 and 2004 World Series with Lamar National Little League from Richmond, Texas. Both Mr. Conforto and Mr. Grichuk homered in that game.
“I remember watching the Little League World Series on TV and wanting so badly to be there. Recognizing that the odds weren’t great, playing with our little All-Star team from the corner of the country,” said Mr. Conforto. “That journey was one of the most fun experiences of my life – for me it was the big league World Series when we got to the Little League World Series. You get the same feelings as you do now – it brings back that kid in you.”
Mr. Conforto, who made his major league debut on July 24, 2015, was the ﬁrst rookie and youngest player to achieve the accomplishment of playing in all three World Series tournaments. At the 2015 MLB World Series, Mr. Conforto made headlines, powering two home runs in Game 4 of the series at his home park, Citi Field. The previous game, he knocked in a run, becoming the only person to record an RBI in all three World Series tournaments. He ﬁnished the 2015 World Series 5-for-15.
“Anytime you get to be put in the history books, your name will be in there forever, and that’s pretty awesome,” said Mr. Conforto. “I knew I was one of a few guys who had done all three, but I haven’t won any of them. The next goal is to win a World Series.”
The other two gentleman to accomplish this feat do have World Series rings. Mr. Vosberg competed in the 1973 Little League Baseball World Series with his team from Cactus Little League from Tucson, Ariz. He went on to play in the 1980 NCAA® Men’s College World Series® while at the University of Arizona, and was a member of the 1997 MLB World Series Champion Florida Marlins team. Seven years later, Mr. Varitek joined the club when his Boston Red Sox team won the MLB World Series in 2004. Mr. Varitek played in the 1984 Little League® World Series with Almonte Springs National Little League from Almonte Springs, Fla., and in the 1994 College World Series while at Georgia Tech. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash nearly achieved the accomplishment, participating in the 1989 Little League World Series and the 1998 and 1999 College World Series. He was with both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees during their 2007 and 2009 MLB World Series Championship seasons, respectively, but Mr. Cash did not appear on their World Series rosters.
“I think I gained as much conﬁdence as you can as an 11-year-old. I was probably naïve to how big the stage was, but looking back on it, I’ve been able to say that I played in a big game with big circumstances,” said Mr. Conforto. “It really is a big deal at the Little League World Series – there are a lot of people watching and a lot of people rooting you on. I think I gained a lot of conﬁdence from that, and I don’t think I’d be the same player as I am today if I hadn’t gone through that experience.”
At Oregon State University, Mr. Conforto was a standout for the Beavers baseball team. In 2012, he was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. His sophomore year, he hit .328 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI, leading his team to the 2013 College World Series (CWS) in Omaha, Neb. At the CWS, he went 7-for-16 at the plate and was named to the All-Tournament Team. He was selected as a ﬁrst-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), and was drafted by the New York Mets as the 10th overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft. Looking at his baseball success, though, Mr. Conforto is quick to point to his broader sporting background.
“I also played basketball, soccer, and football,” said Mr. Conforto. “I had to make sure my passion was there and you have to try things. You learn things from different sports and it makes you a better baseball player. Find what you like and work hard.”
Article Source: http://www.littleleague.org/media/llnewsarchive/2016/September-December/LL-grad-michael-conforto-makes-baseball-history.htm