BALTIMORE -- What Todd Frazier remembers most from the Little League World Series are the players he met, the relationships he forged -- and, of course, the ping-pong matches.An eager challenger for anyone willing, Frazier recalls spending hours playing on a table with a wooden net, facing off against other
BALTIMORE -- What Todd Frazier remembers most from the Little League World Series are the players he met, the relationships he forged -- and, of course, the ping-pong matches.
An eager challenger for anyone willing, Frazier recalls spending hours playing on a table with a wooden net, facing off against other 12-year-olds from around the world during the 1998 Little League World Series. It's an experience that Frazier, now 32, will have a chance to replicate when he and his Mets teammates travel to Williamsport, Penn., on Sunday for the second annual Little League Classic.
Frazier, who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for a Little League World Series game earlier in the day, also plans to take some of this year's competitors for ice cream, trade souvenir pins with them, and otherwise throw the clock back to '98 in as many ways as possible.
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"I'll act like I'm 12 again," Frazier said, laughing. "I don't think that's ever changed."
Few participants in the 72-year-old history of the event are as passionate about it as Frazier, who has become friends over the years with Little League president Stephen Keener. That is how Frazier, two decades after taking his Toms River (N.J.) team to the championship, wound up receiving a chance to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.
It is far from the only experience he plans to enjoy in the typically sleepy Pennsylvania town. Upon touching down on a Williamsport airstrip Sunday afternoon, Mets players will exchange pins with a group of Little Leaguers there to meet them on the tarmac. They will then ride buses with the children to the World Series site, to the International Grove -- a residence for competitors, and the site of Frazier's infamous ping-pong table -- and to an MLB Play Ball community event nearby.
The Mets and Phillies will then travel to Bowman Field for the Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball.
"It gives [the kids] something to dream for," Frazier said. "I wanted to meet as many big leaguers as I could when I was younger. The fact that they get to meet two teams, and a lot of superstars on each team, it means a lot to the kids. We're going to try to make it as special as possible for them.
"It's going to mean a lot to me to be there, to represent Little League a little bit, to show these kids, stick with your dream. You want to be a big leaguer, man? Just work your butt off to do it."
While much has changed in the 20 years since Frazier played in the Little League World Series, the tradition of trading pins remains alive and well. During Toms Rivers' run through the tournament, Frazier estimated he collected close to 1,000 pins, which he pressed into two binders that he intends to carry with him to Williamsport.
"They're pretty cool," said Michael Conforto, Frazier's teammate and a participant in the 2004 Little League World Series.
Frazier, while proud of his collection, wasn't quite as confident.
"Hopefully, my pins are still cool," he said, laughing. "It's 20 years later."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.