Friday February 3rd, 2023 3:02AM

Kids Again: Red Sox, Orioles cardboard race Little Leaguers

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi and John Schreiber used their sliders without throwing a pitch. The Boston Red Sox pitchers grabbed their hunks of flattened cardboard and took flight for the traditional slide down the outfield hill outside the Little League World Series stadium.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde hit the hill and raced head-to-head against his 14-year-old son in the cardboard challenge.

“I wasn’t sure,” Hyde said with a laugh. “But once I saw people going down, I wanted to try it. You never know when you’re going to be back.”

Oh, and Hyde won the father-son competition.

“A little more mass rolling down,” he said.

On a sunny Sunday morning, the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles acted like kids again as they mingled with Little League stars from around the globe at the site of the pinnacle of youth baseball.

Hours later, it was time to trash the soggy cardboard. The Red Sox and Orioles could have used a raft to get around the rainy field. Weather warning signs flashed on the scoreboard instead of the starting lineups.

The heavy rains subsided eventually and the Red Sox and Orioles played the Major League Baseball Little League Classic on Sunday night at 2,366-seat Historic Bowman Field. President George W. Bush shook hands with Orioles players in front of the dugout and later went into the stands to meet the Little Leaguers and their families that made up the crowd.

The 2023 game is already set: the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies will play Sunday Aug. 20 in the sixth edition of the game. The Phillies lost to the Mets in the 2018 game. Nick Pivetta took the loss for the Phillies in that one — and he got the start for the Red Sox on Sunday night.

After playing Saturday at Camden Yards, the Orioles and Red Sox were greeted Sunday morning at the airport by smiling Little Leaguers and they signed autographs -- yes, even the 12-year-olds signed jerseys and balls for the big leaguers -- and watched some of the early Little League World Series games.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora called a visit with his native Puerto Rico’s Little League team “a great experience.” And yes, his baseball cap turned backward, Cora also dove head-first onto the cardboard and sailed down the hill. He also sat in the rear of a makeshift race car with members of the Little League team out of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

Most of the Orioles had their Little League photos at their locker inside the cramped clubhouse of the non-affiliated Williamsport Crosscutters.

Who was that Oriole wearing No. 8 taking off for first base in his Pop Warner football cleats after a swing of the bat?

Cal Ripken Jr.?

Nope, try Orioles outfielder Austin Hays who gave the uniform a test drive as a kid playing Little League in Florida. Hays had no trouble finding the throwback photo -- the original still hangs on his grandmother’s refrigerator.

Hays said the day was the kind of experience he would have loved growing up. Not many kids can say they reached the Little League World Series. Now, they get the added perk of meeting baseball stars. The lucky few raced against the O’s.

“I made it about halfway down. Fell off my piece of cardboard,” Hays said. “The kid I was racing fell off his, too. So I ran back up, hopped on mine and he tried to go down without his, so I think I won by disqualification.”

Not all the big leaguers were Williamsport rookies. Now Boston’s game-planning coordinator, former Red Sox star Jason Varitek, led Altamonte Springs out of Florida to the 1984 United States championship. Varitek’s advice to today’s Little Leagues is much the same as what he received 38 years ago.

“Enjoy the moment, enjoy the atmosphere, trade pins,” Varitek said as he headed into Sunday’s game. “Meet other players from other countries. Leave your best out there. Enjoy being where you are.”

Of course, the $7 hot dogs at the concession stand — only a buck at your local Little League field — and the poker chips stacked during the clubhouse card game showed this was still a major league experience in the town for pint-sized players.

The Little League Classic is MLB’s latest experiment to try and attract new fans -- and re-ignite the passion of lapsed ones -- through offbeat settings. The last one was a hit -- Major League Baseball’s second “Field of Dreams” game last week came straight out of the cornfields of Dyersville, Iowa. More than 3.1 million viewers watched Fox Sports’ broadcast of the game, the most-watched regular-season baseball game on any network this year.

ESPN had Sunday’s telecast and promised all the added features that make the game a more appealing watch to kids. Much like other Sunday night telecasts, the telecast is expected to include a mic’d up player to talk to the broadcast booth. There’s also an all-kids broadcast team on ESPN2.

“This is our job now. We get paid to do it,” Hays said. “But at the end of the day, we were in those kids shoes and we started playing the game because it was fun. Something we liked to do. And it led us to here.”


More AP MLB: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Sports - Major League Baseball
© Copyright 2023
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kids Again: Red Sox, Orioles cardboard race Little Leaguers
The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles spent most of Sunday meeting kids from around the globe playing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
7:27PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Dad of injured Utah Little Leaguer hopeful of full recovery
The father of a Little League World Series player from Utah who seriously injured his head when he fell out of his top bunk in the dorms says there is a chance his son can make a full recovery
7:27PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Statue honors once-enslaved woman who won freedom in court
A bronze statue of an enslaved woman from Massachusetts who went to court to win her freedom in 1781 has been unveiled in the Berkshires
7:19PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Tucker, Urquidy power Astros past Braves as Ozuna hears boos
Atlanta outfielder Marcell Ozuna was booed by his home fans in his return, Kyle Tucker singled to drive in Yordan Alvarez for the go-ahead run in the eighth, José Urquidy won his 12th game, and the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 to avoid a three-game sweep
5:07PM ( 2 hours ago )
Yankees retire Paul O'Neill's No. 21 jersey, Cashman booed
The New York Yankees have retired Paul O’Neill's No. 21
4:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
Garcia beats Kvitova to win Western & Southern title
Caroline Garcia has generated momentum going into next week’s U.S. Open, capturing the Western & Southern Open women’s championship with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Petra Kvitova
4:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Pujols blasts two more HRs, Cardinals beat Diamondbacks 16-7
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols blasted two more homers, pushing his career total to 692 and helping St. Louis beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 16-7
12:51AM ( 18 hours ago )
Padres give Hader break from closer role after shaky outings
The Padres are giving reliever Josh Hader a break from the closer role after ninth-inning meltdowns on Thursday and Friday resulted in San Diego losses
9:46PM ( 21 hours ago )
Pujols 2 HRs, up to 692; tops Musial for 2nd in total bases
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit two more home runs, boosting his total to 692 and moving him past Stan Musial into second place on the career list for total bases
9:35PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
‘Dragon Ball Super’ bests ‘Beast’ at box office with $20.1M
“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” topped the charts in its first weekend in theaters, with $20.1 million in ticket sales according to studio estimates on Sunday
1:57PM ( 5 hours ago )
Horror film convention promoter speaks after Busey charges
A horror movie convention promoter says it is assisting authorities following charges against actor Gary Busey involving alleged sexual offenses at an event in New Jersey earlier this month
11:43AM ( 7 hours ago )
After years of scrutiny of NY detective, a case gets retried
Prosecutors in Brooklyn are for the first time retrying a long-ago case they won with the help of a former homicide detective whose work has been questioned
9:18AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Source: CBS extends Champions League deal for $250M a year
The Champions League is staying on CBS in the United States for six more years
1:00PM ( 2 days ago )
Springer, Guerrero lead Jays to 9-2 rout of slumping Yanks
George Springer went 5-for-5, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run second inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays routed the slumping New York Yankees 9-2
11:46PM ( 2 days ago )
For 1st month ever, streamers rule broadcast, cable networks
This summer has been a breakthrough for streaming
5:15PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Online TV News
Orioles hit 5 homers, outslug Red Sox in wild 15-10 win
Anthony Santander hit one of the Orioles’ five homers and drove in four runs, and Baltimore outslugged the Boston Red Sox 15-10
11:53PM ( 1 day ago )
Yankees blanked again, Gausman pitches Blue Jays to 4-0 win
Kevin Gausman tossed seven sharp innings and the Toronto Blue Jays became the latest team to shut out the New York Yankees, beating the AL East leaders 4-0
11:43PM ( 1 day ago )
Riley, Wright lead Braves past Astros 6-2 in Series rematch
Austin Riley hit a three-run homer off Lance McCullers Jr., Kyle Wright won his 15th game to tie for the NL lead, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in the teams’ first meeting since last year’s World Series
11:38PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Dad of injured Utah Little Leaguer hopeful of full recovery
The father of a Little League World Series player from Utah who seriously injured his head when he fell out of his top bunk in the dorms says there is a chance his son can make a full recovery
7:27PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Statue honors once-enslaved woman who won freedom in court
A bronze statue of an enslaved woman from Massachusetts who went to court to win her freedom in 1781 has been unveiled in the Berkshires
7:19PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Fisher excels in debut, Canha 2 HRs, Mets rally past Phils
Nate Fisher pitched three scoreless innings of relief in his major league debut after working at a bank a year ago, Mark Canha hit two homers and drove in five runs and the New York Mets rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 10-9
7:13PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Sagging Yankees win for just 10th time in 30 games, top Jays
Andrew Benintendi hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning and the New York Yankees got a win they desperately needed, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 to avoid a four-game sweep
6:40PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Tom Weiskopf, major champion and golf course architect, dies
Major champion and golf course architect Tom Weiskopf has died of pancreatic cancer
6:37PM ( 59 minutes ago )