<
>

Before they were famous: Pros who played in the Little League World Series

play
When MLB stars dominated Little League World Series (0:54)

MLB stars like Gary Sheffield, Michael Conforto and Cody Bellinger made their debuts on the big stage during the Little League World Series. (0:54)

They may be household names now, but some professional athletes were first in the spotlight as kids on the baseball fields of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

And while some stuck to the diamond and went on to have careers in Major League Baseball, others found success in everything from football to hockey to auto racing.

Let's take a look back at some famous faces whose athletic careers were just getting started at the Little League World Series.


LLWS participants from other sports

* -- team won LLWS

Matt Cassel: Cassel was the first baseman for the "Earthquake Kids" from Northridge City, California, in 1994. His team reached the finals before falling to Venezuela. Cassel became an NFL quarterback and is with his seventh team, the Detroit Lions.

Austin Dillon: Dillon played second base and hit ninth for Southwest Forsyth team from Clemmons, North Carolina in 2002. His team went 0-3, but Dillon found success as a NASCAR driver, winning the 2018 Daytona 500.

* Chris Drury: Drury pitched Trumbull, Connecticut to the 1989 LLWS championship. He went on to play 12 seasons in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Drury was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

Gale Gilbert: Gilbert was the catcher for the Red Bluff, California team that lost in the 1974 championship to Taiwan. He became an NFL quarterback and was on five consecutive Super Bowl teams, but never won. Gilbert was also the starting quarterback at Cal during the famous "band is on the field" game against Stanford.

Billy Hunter: Hunter was a pitcher and infielder for the Delaware Township team from Cherry Hill, New Jersey that made it to the final in 1955 He went on to play wide receiver and was a kick returner for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins and also served as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.

Chad Pennington: Pennington played for the Hamilton, Ohio team that made it to the quarterfinals in 1991. He went on to earn NFL Comeback Player of the Year twice during his 11-year career, playing quarterback for the New York Jets and Dolphins.

Turk Schonert: Schonert played in the 1968 LLWS as a shortstop and third baseman for Garden Grove, California. He played nine seasons as an NFL quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals and one with the Atlanta Falcons. Schonert has become a longtime NFL, UFL and CFL coach.

* Brian Sipe: Sipe competed for the 1961 LLWS champions from El Cajon, California before becoming an NFL quarterback. In 1980, he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player and selected to the Pro Bowl for helping lead the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs. He holds Browns franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns.

Krissy Wendell-Pohl: In 1994, Wendell-Pohl was the fifth girl to play in the LLWS and the first to start at catcher, playing for the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota team. She went on to win a silver medal in women's ice hockey at the 2002 Olympic Games and a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics.

Pierre Turgeon: Turgeon represented Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec in the 1982 LLWS. He was selected No. 1 overall in the 1987 NHL draft by the Buffalo Sabres and named to five All-Star Games during a long career in which he racked up more than 500 goals and 800 assists.


Current MLB players who played in the LLWS

Cody Bellinger: Bellinger played for the Chandler, Arizona team in the 2007 LLWS before being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. He made his MLB debut in 2017 and was named NL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star.

Michael Conforto: Conforto was on the Redmond, Washington team in 2004. He later was selected in the first round of the MLB draft by the New York Mets in 2014 and made his MLB debut in 2015. Conforto was named to his first All-Star team in 2017.

* Todd Frazier: Frazier was a star for the Toms River, New Jersey team that won the 1998 championship. He started the final game at shortstop but later became the game-winning pitcher while also going 4-4 at the plate with a leadoff home run. Frazier was drafted in 2007 by the Cincinnati Reds and debuted in 2011. The two-time All-Star and 2015 Home Run Derby champion is now a third baseman with the Mets.

Randal Grichuk: Grichuk participated in the LLWS in 2003 and 2004 for Richmond, Texas. His team finished third in 2004, and he tied the LLWS record for hits with 12 and led the event with four home runs. Grichuk was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2009 and made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014. He's now an outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Scott Kingery: Kingery played for the Phoenix team in the 2006 LLWS. The second baseman was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015 and made his MLB debut in 2018.

Lance Lynn: Lynn competed in the 1999 LLWS with the Brownsburg, Indiana team. The Cardinals selected Lynn in the first round of the 2008 draft and he debuted in 2011, winning the World Series with St. Louis. Lynn now pitches for the New York Yankees.

Max Moroff: Moroff played third base and shortstop for the Maitland, Florida, team in the 2005 LLWS. The infielder was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and made his MLB debut in 2016.

Francisco Pena: Pena played for the Bronx, New York team in 2001 that finished third, but then had its medals taken away when it was revealed that pitcher Danny Almonte was too old to be on the team. Pena went on to sign with the Mets in 2007 and made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Kansas City Royals. He is currently a catcher for the Cardinals.

* Yusmeiro Petit: Petit was on the Coquivacoa team from Venezuela that won the 1994 LLWS championship. He signed with the Mets in 2001 and debuted in 2006 with the Florida Marlins. Petit helped the San Francisco Giants to the 2014 World Series title and became the first player to win both the LLWS and MLB World Series. He now pitches for the Oakland Athletics.

* Jurickson Profar: Profar helped the team from Willemstad, Curacao to the 2004 and 2005 LLWS finals. Curacao won the championship in 2004, thanks in part to a two-run home run by Profar, but fell short in 2005. Profar signed with the Texas Rangers in 2009 and made his MLB debut in 2012, hitting a home run in his first at-bat.

Colby Rasmus: Rasmus played first base and pitched for the Phenix City, Alabama team in 1999 that made it to the championship game. The outfielder was drafted by the Cardinals in 2005 and made his MLB debut in 2009. He played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2018.

* Jonathan Schoop: Schoop represented Willemstad, Curacao, in the 2003 and 2004 LLWS. His team won the championship in 2004, with Schoop earning the save. The second baseman signed with the Orioles in 2008 and debuted in 2013. He was an All-Star in 2017 and was recently traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Devon Travis: Travis played for the Boyton Beach, Florida team that made it to the championship in the 2003 LLWS. The second baseman was drafted in 2012 by the Detroit Tigers and debuted in 2015 for the Blue Jays, earning AL Rookie of the Month honors.