Every year during the Little League World Series, people do lists of all the players who have actually gone on to become Major Leaguers. But as I’ve already said, that’s kind of boring. You expect a lot of these kids to go on to become big league baseball players. After all, the teams that compete in the event are all local All-Star teams that beat other local All-Star teams. That’s why, instead of a simple list of LLWS players who went on to become play in the big leagues, on Monday I brought you a more exclusive club: LLWS players who went on to play in the realWorld Series.
Well, today I present you with an ever more exclusive club: Little League World Series players who went on to play sports other than baseball. Leading the way, somewhat surprisingly, are hockey players. After that we’ve got a handful of football players—all quarterbacks—and a single race car driver.
So keep clicking to see who belongs to this exclusive club.
Former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert played for the team form Red Bluff, California, in the 1974 Little League World Series, and they made it all the way to the finals...where they were humiliated by Taiwan on national television, 12-1. Of course, by that point, Americans were used to watching their little leaguers lose to teams from Taiwan, as that was their 5th victory in 6 years, on their way to a record 17 total LLWS victories.
Luckily for Gilbert, the drubbing on national TV didn't scar him for life. He went on have a successful college career as the quarterback for the Cal Golden Bears. In fact, he was their quarterback in 1982, when the team was part of perhaps the most famous play in the history of college football:
How's that for awesome?
Anyway, Gilbert then went on to play backup QB in the NFL for 10 seasons, becoming the only player in history to play in five straight Super Bowls—four with the Bills, one with the Chargers, all losses.
10. Gale Gilbert (NFL)
Just 10 years ago, this NASCAR driver was playing baseball in August in Williamsport, PA, representing the great state of North Carolina with the team from the Forsyth County Little League. Unfortunately, Dillon and the boys went 0-3 in group play and did not advance to the knockout round. However, he's done considerably better in NASCAR.
Dillon was named "Rookie of the Year" in NASCAR Truck Series back in 2010. Then in 2011, at the age of 21, he was the NASCAR Truck Series Champion. And this year, at the age of 22, he's driving a car for Richard Childress Racing in the Nationwide Series, currently sitting in 4th place with 1 win, 11 finishes in the top 5, and 16 finishes in the top 10...as a rookie. So he's definitely and up-and-comer.
9. Austin Dillon (NASCAR)
Turk Schonert played for Garden Grove, California, in the 1969 Little League World Series. The team lost in the semifinals to the eventual champions from Japan, then defeated Canada to take 3rd place.
Schonert went on to become the starting quarterback at Stanford, leading the NCAA in passing. His backup? John Elway.
However, have Elway as his backup would be as close as Schonert would come to NFL greatness. In 9 seasons (all but one with the Begals), he threw for 11 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, with a starting record of 7-5. It's still much better than my record as an NFL QB, but it's not great. After his playing days were done he managed to hang around the league as a coach—first a quarterback coach, then the full-on offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Now, however, he's coaching the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League...yikes.
8. Turk Schonert (NFL)
At #7 we have our first of three Canadians on the list. And while that may not seem impressive at first, you have to remember that Americans make up half the players at the LLWS, while players from any other country only make up one fourth or one eighth (depending one whether it was the 8-team era or the 16-team era). So really you would only expect 1 or 2 Canadians. Three is excellent.
Anyway, Ray Ferraro played for the team from Trail, British Columbia, in the 1976 LLWS. They didn't do any good, losing in the first round of the winners bracket and the first round of the losers bracket. But Ferraro had much better luck in the NHL with the Whalers, Islanders, Rangers, Kings, Thrashers, and Blues. He scored a very nice 408 goals, though he never won the ultimate prize—the Stanley Cup.
7. Ray Ferraro (NHL)
At #6 we have our second Canadian, Pierre Turgeon. He played on the team from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, at the 1982 Little League World Series. In fact, he played on the same team as the guy who comes in at #2 on this list. And unlike Ferraro's team from British Columbia, the 1982 team from Quebec didn't get blown away. They won their opening game against Europe 3-0, then suffered a respectable 10-7 loss to the eventual runners up from Taiwan.
Of course, Turgeon played some great hockey for the Sabres and Islanders, most notably, recording a 58-goal, 132-point campaign for the Isles in 1992-93. He also had some fine years for the Canadiens, Blues, and Stars later in his career.
6. Pierre Turgeon (NHL)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel is one of just two active players on the list. He played on the 1994 team from Northridge, California, which lost in the finals to to Venezuela. Since then, he's become a pretty good NFL quarterback. Of course, you will remember that he filled in for Tom Brady in 2008, leading the Patriot to a very unexpected playoff birth. Then he moved over to the Chiefs, where, after a preseason injury hampered his 2009 season, he led the team to an AFC West title in 2010.
5. Matt Cassel (NFL)
In 1994, Krissy Wendell became only the 5th girl to play in the LLWS, and the first to actually start (at catcher) for her team. And though her team from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, didn't advance to the knockout round, they did beat the eventual runners up from Northridge, California—you know, the team that featured Matt Cassel.
Of course, beating Matt Cassel is probably not Krissy Wendell-Pohl's proudest sports achievement. I'm sure she'd much rather brag about her Olympic medals in ice hockey—silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006.
4. Krissy Wendell-Pohl (Olympic Hockey)
At #3 we have our first LLWS champion. Brian Sipe played for the team from El Cajon, California, that won it all in 1961. After that achievement, he went on to star at quarterback at San Diego State and get drafted Cleveland Browns. Now, getting drafted by the Browns may sound like a career death-sentance, but Sipe actually did really well. In 1980, he passed for 4132 yards and 30 TDs, winning the NFL MVP award and leading the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 1972.
Sure, that was pretty much it for Sipe's success, but hey, NFL MVP is a pretty good achievement.
3. Brian Sipe (NFL)
At #2 we have our third and final Canadian. Stephane Matteau played with Pierre Turgeon with the team from Quebec in 1982. And while he was never a point-machine like his LLWS teammate, he did score the most famous goal in New York Rangers history—the overtime winner against the Devils that sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. Then they beat the Canucks, and Matteau got to hoist the hockey's Holy Grail.
That's probably cooler than playing in the Little League World Series, right?
2. Stephane Matteau (NHL)
At #1 is Chris Drury, the other former LLWS player who would go on to hoist hockey's greatest prize.
Drury played on the team from Trumbull, Connecticut, in the 1989 Little League World Series. And they won, which is why Drury takes the top spot on the list.
Later this east coast kid would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche. Also, in 2010, he came an overtime goal away from becoming the only person ever in the history of the world to win the LLWS, an NCAA hockey championship, a Stanley Cup, and an Olympic gold medal. But thanks to Sidney Crosby's golden goal, he had to settle for his second silver medal.
1. Chris Drury (NHL)
little league world series, llws, nascar, NFL, NHL,