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MLB Players Who Started off in Little League

With over two million kids a year taking a swing at little league, how many hopefuls actually go on to be professional MLB players?

While at least one of the Little League World Series Championship winning teams from Japan practices eight to 10 hours a day on weekends, Little League is made up of all kinds of teams and kids (over two million of them!) with all kinds of practice schedules. There are also all kinds of kids that start in Little League and become MLB players.

It's probably safe to bet they all are dedicated, hard-working, and committed to practicing, but who are some of these Little League baseball players that played in the Little League World Series (LLWS) and went on to become professional baseball players?

We've put together a list of baseball players that started out taking a swing at Little League, made it to the LLWS, and then made it all the way to The Show. Keep reading for some fun origin stories, then be inspired to sign up your kid for Little League or feel confident encouraging your current Little League player to keep going for it. 

Jim Barbieri

Jim Barbieri takes dibs as being first to play both the Little League World Series and the MLB World Series, sort of. Boog Powell played the MLB World Series the same year as Barbieri but played the LLWS one year after, so he's a very close second. 

Barbieri's first trip to the LLWS was in 1953 when he played with his Schenectady, New York, team. They were defeated by a team from Birmingham, Alabama. 

His second trip to the LLWS was in 1954 with the same team. They won the championship the second time around, ousting a team from Colton, California. 

Barbieri played the MLB World Series in 1966 with the Dodgers, losing to the Orioles. He was a pinch hitter.

Boog Powell

Like Barbieri, Boog Powell pitched in the 1966 MLB World Series. He played for the Orioles and beat Barbieri's Dodgers. 

Powell made it to the 1954 LLWS as a power pitcher. His team from Lakefield, Florida, lost to Barbieri's Schenectady team.

At the time, kids could pitch as many games as they wanted to or could. Powell pitched 11 games as his team came into that 1954 LLWS.

Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier had his eyes on The Show already as a kid. His hard work and River East Little League team out of New Jersey got him to the LLWS at age 12.

The team was called "The Beasts of the East." They had power hitters - like Frazier who went 4-4 during the tournament with a leadoff homer - and went undefeated. Frazier also pitched for the win against the Kashima, Ibakari team out of Japan. 

Frazier kept at it, working his skills, and stepped onto the MLB scene 13 years later on May 23, 2011, playing for the Reds.

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger is another big hitter that worked hard in Little League and played in the LLWS at age 12 in 2007. 

Bellinger was on a Chandler, Arizona all-star team. They fought their way into the LLWS though pool play and made it all the way to the semi-finals.

In 2013, Bellinger made it all the way to The Show. He got drafted by the Dodgers and was on the field that April 25th vying for MVP in the National League as first baseman. 

Just six years after that LLWS debut, he made it and is considered a sensation. That first season at 22, he scored 34 home runs and had 79 RBIs.

Jurickson Profar

At just the ripe young age of 11, Jurickson Profar helped pave the way for his Little League team - Pabao Little League - to garner the first win ever of a Championship for Curacao, his small island home. This is a testament to the support and encouragement Little League gives to kids from all over the world.

He was a star on the mound and at the plate, batting .313 and striking out 19. That was in 2004.

In 2005, Pabao Little League and Profar made it all the way to the LLWS International Championship. 

Profar made it to The Show in 2012 with the Rangers. His first time at bat, he hit a home run. In 2013, he was the team's starting shortstop.

Colby and Cory Rasmus

These brothers out of Phenix City, Alabama, came up together on Little League fields. They both played the 1999 LLWS with the Phenix City team where they lost in the Championship game to the Hirakata team from Osaka, Japan.

Colby is the older of the two and was a phenom at the 1999 tournament, helping the team battle back from the loser's bracket to the Championship and going 5-for-10, scoring three runs, and hitting a home run. He also hit three RBIs and got seven strikeouts

He got picked by the Cardinals in 2005, played in the Olympics in 2008, was NL Rookie of the year in 2009, and now is an Astros outfielder.

Cory watched, learned, worked hard in Little League, and followed in his brother's footsteps. In 2013, he made the big leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Turning Little League Players Into MLB Players

It's pretty inspiring to see these stories of MLB players that started out just where your kid is today: in Little League!

It surely took a lot of hard work and encouragement in Little League to get to the LLWS and then the pros. But even the kids that play Little League for fun get so many of the great life skills needed to succeed and be happy, whether that's in MLB or any other career or part of life. 

So, high-five yourself for encouraging your kid to play ball. High for your kid for doing their thing in baseball, whatever that is. And keep doing it!

If you feel like giving an extra boost of encouragement, check out some things you can do to boost team spirit and confidence like how to make custom baseball pins to unify a team. We have those pins so also check out how to make them for your kid's team. We're here to answer any questions!

Did you know that the Little League World Series represents the largest elimination tournament in the world? During the course of the Little League season, hundreds of thousands of games get played to determine which teams make the cut.

And when the excitement converges on Williamsport, Pennsylvania, get ready for the time of your life. Over the course of the month leading up to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania, 935 Little League players between the ages of 10 and 16 years old will compete. They come from 78 different teams all over the world.

Read on to find out more about this amazing event and how to get to the Little League World Series with your kids this summer.

History of the Williamsport, PA Little League World Series

Founded in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1939, Little League marks an important rite of passage for kids in the US and around the world. The first Little League World Series happened in 1947. Held in Williamsport, the event has since moved to the Susquehanna River, a major sports complex located in South Williamsport.

Every year since 1947, the event has remained in the same place, a testament to the longevity of this amazing family-friendly experience. Today's competition happens every mid-August. That's when 16 of the best teams in the world coalesce on the area. Eight come from the US and eight come from around the globe.

Over 11 days, the World Series narrows the field culminating in a face-off between the top American team and the top international team. And this comes with lots of good old-fashioned fun for the whole family.

Here are the highlights from the 2018 Little League World Series.

An Affordable, Family-Friendly Event

What are two of the best things about the Williamsport Little League World Series? First, the event proves family-friendly. Second, admission remains 100 percent free. In other words, experiencing this Little League event represents one of the best and most affordable options for families in Pennsylvania. And it's a magical one at that.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you attend. First off, the food served at the World Series proves affordable and tasty. But since this is a family-friendly affair, no alcohol or tobacco use is permitted in the stadium. Second, in order to ensure everyone's safety, you'll need to go through security before entering. This includes metal detectors and mandatory bag checks. So, give yourself some extra time to get through the lines and secure your seats.

Stadium-Sized Fun at the Little League World Series

Because of the high numbers of kids who participate in the event, two stadiums house the games:

The Howard J. Lamade Stadium's relationship with Little League began in 1959 when it was first used for a World Series. And it remains the main field for the event.

Although smaller than Lamade Stadium, Volunteer Stadium also provides great accommodations. It holds approximately 3,000 people in the stands and 5,000 when the nearby berm gets counted.

Because of its limited seating, only early-round games for the series' international teams are held there.

More About Lamade Stadium

Of the 30 tournament games held during the Little League World Series, 20 happen at Lamade Stadium. These include the nail-biting last few days of competition.

The Lamade Stadium can accommodate up to 15,000 observers. But this number fluctuates based on how many people squeeze into the bleachers. It also features hillside viewing that can hold up to 40,000 people on the grounds.

In fact, the hillside represents one of your best bets when attending the World Series. Seats are almost always available, and from the hill, you'll enjoy excellent views of the outfield.

The hillside includes two tiers accessible via a walkway. On days when crowds prove more sparse, your kids can even share in the local tradition of riding down the hillside's slopes using cardboard boxes. (Sleds are not permitted.)

The Fun Doesn't Stop at the Stadium

Besides the two baseball stadiums, great family activities abound at the Little League World Series. Just walking around the sports complex and taking in its sights and sounds will keep you and your kids busy for hours.

And if your kids need a serious outlet for their pent up energy? Don't forget to visit the Family Fun Zone located near the two stadiums. The Fun Zone offers activities for kids of all ages including:

Just remember that on busy days, the Fun Zone fills up quickly. So, it's highly recommended that you pre-register in order to avoid long wait times.

Your family will also want to check out the Peter J. McGovern World of Little League Museum. The museum is located along Route 15 at the top of the hill.

It explores the history of Little League baseball while showcasing famous players. Your kids will also find plenty of interactive activities to help them explore Little League's fascinating past.

How to Get to the Little League World Series

During the Little League World Series, a few thousand bleacher seats are usually dedicated to the public. For early round games, admission is free, and you don't have to secure tickets. But you'll want to arrive early to get a good spot.

That said, in rare instances, Little League may deem it necessary to issue tickets. You can get these tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

In the event that tickets get issued, you may obtain them at "Will Call" or from an usher. But here's the caveat. Each member of your party must be present at the time that these tickets are issued.

Each stadium opens one hour before game time. But you should arrive even earlier in order to secure a good spot. Seats fill up quickly.

Note that for each of the championship games, no public seats are available. All seating remains reserved for ticketed VIPs alone.

"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"

Few moments hold as much excitement as the umpire's proclamation, "Play ball!" at the beginning of a game during the Little League World Series. Watching the best kids in baseball from around the world strive to win will captivate your whole family.

With the guide above, you now know how to get to the Little League World Series. Will this summer be your year?

Want to read more about Little League? Check out our post on five lessons that can be gleaned from Little League baseball.

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