August 28, 2004


Playing Catch-Up With Sheffield (JACK CURRY, 8/26/04, NY Times)

The now familiar-looking 11-year-old with slits for eyes, a space between his two front teeth and the beginning of a mischievous grin announced himself to a national audience during the introductions for the 1980 Little League World Series.

"Gary Sheffield. Catcher."

Yes, that is the Yankees' Gary Sheffield as an 11-year-old staring into the television camera to give his name and what now seems like an odd position for him to be playing on the team from Tampa, Fla. Gary Sheffield, a catcher?

When Sheffield finished his introduction, he turned to the right and smiled at two teammates, flashing the kind of smile that he said expressed how cool it felt to be 11, to be playing for a world championship and to be doing it on ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

"I was even hitting third," said Sheffield, laughing over his little-boy voice and mannerisms.

Sheffield watched a videotape of the game - played 24 years ago - for the first time last week in a Minneapolis hotel. The normally subdued Sheffield was excited to see the tape, but during the 75-minute session, his emotions veered from being happy about some sweet memories and permanent friendships to being disappointed about some lost chances that day and unfulfilled potential in subsequent years.

Even nearly 25 years later, Sheffield still wonders how his Belmont Heights team lost to Taiwan, 4-3.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 28, 2004 6:51 AM
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