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LONG BEACH : The Road to the Little League world Series : The Other Father-Son Combo on All-Stars : Little League: Manager Larry Lewis' son Timmy has emerged as an offensive force in the team's drive to defend its World Series title.

August 26, 1993|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Timmy Lewis steps to the plate, his hair flowing from beneath a batting helmet like a golden waterfall. His father, Larry Lewis, paces in the dugout. Seconds later, Timmy cracks a home run that clears a sign board 260 feet away in left field. It propels Long Beach to a 5-2 victory over San Ramon Valley in the final game of the Western Regional in San Bernardino. Most of the hype at the Little League World Series has been about Coach Jeff Burroughs, the 1974 American League MVP, and his son, Sean, who entered the tournament with 105 home runs over three years and an 11-0 pitching record since July 10.

Overlooked has been the other Long Beach All-Stars father-son team.

Timmy Lewis, son of manager Larry Lewis, quietly became a force in the team's drive to get here for the second consecutive year. He is second on the team (behind Burroughs) in batting during the all-star playoffs, with an average of .474, and third in home runs with four.

"Timmy has really come into his own," Jeff Burroughs said. "I've never seen such a transition in a ballplayer."

Timmy Lewis did not play on last year's world-champion team because he was not selected by the league's players. He came to Williamsport anyway. His father was managing because he had been the manager of the league champion Pirates during the regular season.

"I learned a lot from watching the guys hit last year, the way they held the bat and stuff," Lewis said.

He had a good regular season this spring for the Pirates--who again were league champions--and was voted to the all-star team. But as tournament play began, he fell into a slump and did not start the first six games.

"He had a hard time swinging the bat (earlier) this year," Jeff Burroughs said. "He had a couple of things wrong with his stance, then he didn't see the ball well."

Lewis got hot as the team entered sectional play in late July, getting several key hits, and won a starting role. Not known as a fielder, Lewis has shown constant improvement in left field. He made several outstanding catches at the Western Regional.

"He's really picked up his game," Larry Lewis said. "He showed his inexperience some early, but now he's tough."

The manager does not mind that his son will continue to live in Sean Burroughs' shadow. Burroughs entered the World Series with a .698 batting average and 14 home runs.

"Seany is a great player, maybe one of the greatest in America," Larry Lewis said. "Timmy is nowhere near that yet, but he has improved markedly."

During his hot streak, Lewis has refused to cut his hair, which is now down on his shoulders. He said he fears it will bring bad luck to the team.

His father is also superstitious. He wore the same tan shirt and pants, white socks, weathered tennis shoes and black baseball cap at every game until he got to Williamsport, where uniforms are supplied. A former sprinter at Millikan High School in Long Beach, Larry Lewis keeps an old baton from a Millikan relay team in his bag in the dugout for good luck.

If he were not playing baseball in Williamsport, Lewis probably would be surfing this week, or beachcombing with his neighbor and close buddy, Sean Burroughs.

His mother, Sandy Lewis, enrolled him in a lifeguard safety program in Long Beach this summer, but because of his baseball schedule, he missed most of it. In the few days he attended, he qualified to represent Los Angeles County in regional Junior Lifeguard competitions. In Santa Barbara, he qualified for the national finals in the paddleboard event.

Because it is difficult for a father to coach or manage his son, Jeff Burroughs and Larry Lewis have an agreement: They handle each other's son during games.

During a tight regional game, in which Lewis had two hits, Jeff Burroughs took him out for defensive purposes after four innings. Larry Lewis went along, but was not sure it was a good move.

"We make most of the decisions where to play kids together," Larry Lewis said. "I thought Timmy was swinging the bat well and if the other team had played good defense on us, we would have needed his bat."

It's a big bat.

His game-winning homer against San Ramon Valley approached some of the mammoth shots that Sean Burroughs has hit.

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