SEATTLE — Lloyd McClendon jokes that he’s too old to have any memories from his time at the 1971 Little League World Series.
But when pressed a little, the Mariners manager, who earned the nickname “Legendary Lloyd” for hitting five home runs in as many at bats for Gary, Ind., does remember one thing in particular.
McClendon wasn’t scared of playing against the best competition in the world, however. He was scared when it came time to do a TV interview with another legend, former New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle.
“I tried to run,” McClendon said. “He said, ‘Come back here.’ I literally tried to run away from him.”
Asked why he would run away from a Hall of Famer, McClendon chuckled and said, “I was scared (expletive). It was Mickey Mantle … My God, this is Mickey Mantle. This isn’t supposed to be happening.”
Other than that moment, however, McClendon very much enjoyed his time in Williamsport, Penn., even if it was nothing like the event Pacific Little League will be playing in beginning today.
“It was a little different,” McClendon said. “Hell, we didn’t even know we were going to the World Series, we didn’t know what it was. Now it’s so publicized, and I’m not sure if it’s all for the best to be honest with you. But I’m sure those kids are excited and happy to be going.”
McClendon’s advice to the kids from Pacific Little League — well, other than to not freak out if a former star player approaches — is simple.
“Have fun,” he said. “Just enjoy it.”
Another former Little League World Series star passed through Safeco Field this week with Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus in town to face the Mariners. Rasmus, whose Phenix City, Ala., team lost in the championship game of the 1999 Little League World Series, remembers the games less than he does the good times.
“Just the fun that it was to be around all the other players from around the world,” he said. “We played ping pong and video games with them. There was like a little village they set up, and to be around all the other teams was cool. The whole experience was a blast.”
Rasmus, like McClendon, says the key to success is to enjoy the ride.
“Just let it all hang out,” he said. “Play as hard as you can for your city and hope for the best. It’s just a really cool time, something you worked really hard for.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.