Torii Hunter gets enshrined in Hall of Excellence

Retired five-time Major League Baseball All-Star Torii Hunter received Little League’s highest honor, enshrinement into the Little League Hall of Excellence, at Lamade Stadium on Wednesday.

“Mr. Hunter played Little League Baseball in the mid-1980s and has supported our program throughout his illustrious Major League Baseball career,” Little League President and CEO Stephen D. Keener said. “Throughout his life, both on and off the field, Mr. Hunter has exemplified what Little League stands for leadership, dedication, and giving back. We are honored to enshrine him into the Little League Hall of Excellence.”

Hunter was an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers and received the honor this year along with softball pitcher Cat Osterman and football coach Tom Coughlin.

Little League has not left Hunter’s mind for long during his 19 years in MLB. Hunter, along with retired Baltimore Orioles pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, had visited Williamsport in 2004 after raising $100,000 in funds from professional players like Sean Casey, Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield for Little League’s Urban Initiative, which promotes recruitment and retention for local leagues in over 80 cities.

“I was definitely one of the kids in the inner city in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. For me I play this movie constantly over and over in my head from when I was a child and getting the chance to get on a plane and travel because of baseball and that’s why I try to get involved,” Hunter said. “A lot of these kids in urban areas don’t have a chance to travel and have these life experiences and I think baseball is a great way of doing it.”

Hunter still watches the Little League World Series and does so because of one major difference between Major League and Little League.

“I love the way they play the game because they don’t get paid. No one is trying to take their job,” Hunter said. “When you’re in the major leagues you lose a little bit because it’s work. If you don’t do your job, you get fired.”

After his enshrinement, Hunter spoke directly to the players at the Series.

“Congratulations on making it this far and your accomplishments. I know it’s not easy. You’ve been working your butts off and you got a long way to go. But I want to tell you guys right now,” Hunter said. “You have to enjoy the moment right now. When you step on this field just play it like it’s your last game that you’re never going to play again.”

“Give it your all today. Play hard. Because when you get to my age you’re always going to always remember this moment,” Hunter said. “You do not want to have any regrets. I played for 19 years and they said what do you regret and I said nothing because I gave it my all.”