By Luke Ramirez
Trophies have been very easy to come by throughout the lives of the players in the 2017 Little League® Baseball World Series. However, thanks to Major League Baseball’s efforts to promote the LLBWS, this year’s participants were treated to a personal visit by The Commissioner's Trophy.
“[The trophy] is the pinnacle of baseball,” said Lance Van Auken, Executive Director of the World of Little League Museum. “A lot of these boys, I’m sure, dream of playing professional baseball and this day should help them keep dreaming.”
Arriving in a Brinks armored truck on Friday, the trophy made its way to the recreation room of the Creighton J. Hale International Grove, where players and coaches had the opportunity to check out the two-foot tall trophy.
“It’s pretty special,” said Canada Region Coach Ryan Hefflick. “You see it on TV every fall, but to actually see it in person in something else.”
The engraved reflection of the word “champions” shined on the table as coaches and players posed for pictures with The Commissioner's Trophy. On the back, past World Series champions and the signature of Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred, a Little League graduate, adorns the base.
After all the players had their chance to see the trophy for themselves, it will spend some time in the World of Little League Museum just up the hill from the Grove.
Photo Credit: MLB/Alex Trautwig
“It’s a wonderful addition to our overall program and obviously coincides with the MLB Little League Classic being played in Williamsport on Sunday night,” said Mr. Van Auken. “This is the third time we have had The Commissioner's trophy here in Williamsport, and it’s a great honor every time.”
Players entered the rec. room a few at a time as they heard the news about the trophy being on display. Through the chaos of video game sound effects and flying ping pong balls in that room, the world’s best Little Leaguers took time to soak it in.
“I just want to take a picture of it,” said Mid-Atlantic infielder Ryan Kinsman. “It definitely makes me want to try harder to make it to the MLB and maybe get my hands on one of those.”
Kinsman and other players swarmed around the trophy going over memories of the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought.
“I watched the Cubs win the trophy, and it makes it cooler to me that they were the last team to win it,” said Kinsman.
Amongst all of the other life-changing experiences the participants will have in the two weeks they spend in Williamsport, seeing The Commissioner’s Trophy first-hand will resonate with them forever.
“It’s definitely a bonus that adds to the atmosphere here,” said Mr. Hefflick. “These memories are going to stick with them for a long, long time.”
The only thing the players could not do was touch the trophy. Years down the road however, it may be Kinsman or another LLBWS player that hoists The Commissioner’s Trophy above their head as an MLB World Series champion.