Boys of Summer: Six stars reflect on their Little League days

Boys of Summer: Six stars reflect on their Little League days

Miguel Cabrera, first base, Detroit Tigers
I started playing baseball when I was 4 or 5. We practiced three days a week, and we played on Saturdays and Sundays. It was fun because it was competition. You always want to beat the other team.

Madison Bumgarner, pitcher, San Francisco Giants
I played Little League in North Carolina. That was back when I was really young and the coach pitched to us. I played shortstop on that team. But what I remember most is my first home run. I tripped running around the bases.

Bumgarner fans eight

Adam Jones, outfield, Baltimore Orioles
Almost everybody played tee-ball when they were younger, including me. When I first started playing, the concession stand at the local field would give out nachos or hot dogs and juice after each game. I really started getting into the sport when I was about 12 years old. By the time we were that age, our coaches would take us to McDonald's after games. For a teenager, cheeseburgers are the best.

My most memorable Little League moment is the last game my grandma ever saw me play. I was 14. Ever since then, baseball has been part of my daily routine.

Jeff Samardzija, pitcher, Chicago White Sox
I started playing because my brother played. He was four years older than me, and I always wanted to do what he did. I followed him around, and I began playing organized tee-ball at Valparaiso (Ind.) Americans Little League. When I was about 7, I started to figure out what I was doing on the field.

I played shortstop -- that's when I was short and could still pick it -- until high school, when I started playing the outfield. I played three sports growing up, though, so baseball wasn't a full-time thing for me. As I got older, I started doing a little traveling for all of them.

Napoli's solo homer

Mike Napoli, first base, Boston Red Sox
I've been playing since I was 5. I always used to love going to the park with my friends. We won pretty frequently and played on all-star teams together. After the games, we used to go eat pizza. I still have some friends from Little League.

A few years ago, there was a team from California in the Little League World Series, and I remember one of the players saying that I was his favorite player. I thought it was the best thing ever. I told my team, "Hey, let's send this kid a bat, baseballs, whatever." It was such a cool thing. I never thought some kid at the LLWS was going to say I was his favorite player.

CC Sabathia, pitcher, New York Yankee
I started playing tee-ball in Vallejo, Calif., when I was pretty young -- about 3 or 4. My uncle was my coach. I played first base, and I would take ground balls at shortstop sometimes. I was on a team with 5-year-olds, though, and I wasn't very good at all. But by age 6, I was the best on the team. I was a veteran.

When I was older, we would line up and do backflips to celebrate after our games. My most embarrassing baseball moment happened when I got a black eye on a pop up. I was playing center field, and I turned my glove the wrong way. In Little League, you learn and develop friendships. I made some very close friends, and I still keep in touch with them.