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Little Big Men : World Champs Are Back Home but Still in the Spotlight

September 02, 1993|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — Left fielder Timmy Lewis went surfing. Reserve outfielder Cassidy Traub played golf and went to soccer practice, and pitcher/first baseman Brady Werner "just laid around" home trying to get rid of a cold.

The Little League world champions are getting some much-needed rest and catching up on things they've missed in what is left of their summer.

But the young celebrities will remain in the spotlight. Slugger Sean Burroughs, for example, is scheduled to appear on "Late Night with David Letterman."

It's been a whirlwind pace for the Long Beach All-Stars since they defeated Panama, 3-2, Saturday in Williamsport, Pa., to become the first U.S. team to win successive World Series titles. They were honored Tuesday with a downtown parade attended by about 10,000 people.

Fans cheered, applauded, threw confetti and sought autographs as the players rode in cars down Pine Avenue.

After last week, most of these 12-year-olds were used to the attention.

Jeremy Hess, the pinch-hitter whose single drove in the winning run in the last inning of the title game, has been besieged by television crews at his home.

"It's been cool," said the third baseman, who gained instant celebrity status with his hit. His photograph has appeared in national and local publications. During the parade, he signed autographs and smiled broadly when a spectator held up a hand-lettered sign that read: "Hess . . . Yes!"

*

The players' parents, looking a bit tired, rode in old fire wagons. While enjoying their sons' day of glory, they said for the next few days the youngsters will be settling back into family life, getting used to their own beds and reacquainting themselves with friends. In less than two weeks they'll be back in school.

"These kids are very tired," team manager Larry Lewis said. "It's been a long road. Some of the guys have been sick with fevers since they got home."

David Traub, Cassidy's father, said the past month has been a drain on family life.

"Cassidy has slept one night in his own bed in the last month," he said.

Because Little League Inc. pays only for team members to go to the Western Regional and World Series, many parents spent thousands of dollars to see their sons play. The Long Beach team has been away from home for nearly a month, playing in tournaments in San Diego, San Bernardino and Williamsport.

Soon, however, it will be more TV interviews, talk shows and special appearances for the boys of summer.

Burroughs, who hit three home runs and pitched two no-hitters during the series, will be on Letterman's show. Team members have agreed to be guests on a new talk show starring Chevy Chase that begins next week. A book about the team is in the works. A producer wants to do a movie. And there's talk of a trip to the White House to meet President Clinton.

"This is such great fun and memories for the kids," Lewis said. "For most, this is a special dream come true."

*

League officials hope to cash in on the fortunes of the team. T-shirts proclaiming the 1993 title were on sale for $10 at the parade. Later, officials met with parents to discuss how to handle interview requests.

This year's title and the accompanying accolades are especially sweet for the Stearns Park league. Last year, Long Beach lost the World Series finale to the Philippines, 15-4. Later it was revealed that several Filipino players were overage and Long Beach was awarded the title.

But that wasn't as good as winning it before a national TV audience.

"We said last year that if they gave us a legal team, we'd whip them on the field," said Bob McKittrick, a Little League official in charge of the Long Beach area. "Well, these kids this time had something to prove and they went out and did it."

Travis Perkins, who scored six runs in the series, said, "In the very beginning I knew we had a good team, but I didn't know if we would get this far."

Pitcher/infielder Alex DeFazio, one of four players who returned from last year's all-star team, said it was hard to believe it was over. "Last year things seemed to take so much longer," he said.

As Charlie Hayes, the pinch-runner who scored the winning run in the championship game, sat in the convertible that carried him along the parade route, he reflected on what he and his teammates had done:

"We played baseball for our summer. You got to make the best of it because you won't get too many summers like this one."

LONG BEACH ALL-STARS

BATTING

Player Pos. Avg. R RBI HR Alex DeFazio P/Inf. .273 28 15 5 Sean Burroughs P/SS .582 44 39 21 Brady Werner P/1B .320 25 18 17 Timmy Lewis LF .479 15 10 4 Kevin Miller RF/IB .309 14 11 4 Chris Miller RF/2B .348 18 14 3 Brent Kirkland 3B .357 7 7 1 Billy Gwinn C .250 9 10 0 Nate Moeiny OF .333 6 2 0 Travis Perkins Util. .263 10 10 2 Cassidy Traub OF .194 6 4 0 Scott Tobis Util. .176 5 8 1 Charlie Hayes Util. .294 8 2 0 Jeremy Hess 3B .204 9 14 3 Team .337 210 164 61

PITCHING

Player W-L IP ERA Burroughs 13-0 74 0.33 DeFazio 6-1 44 1/3 3.19 Werner 4-0 21 2/3 1.94 K. Miller 1-0 3 0.00 C. Miller 0-0 2 0.00 Perkins 0-0 1 0.00

Jeff Burroughs, Coach

Larry Lewis, Manager

Record: 24-1, World Champions

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