Bichette Jr. becoming a star at Series

Updated: August 22, 2005, 10:56 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Dante Bichette Jr. is certainly making a name for himself at the Little League World Series.

He's striking out batters. He's hitting clutch home runs. He's even getting better at talking to reporters about his on-field exploits after getting counseled by his parents while traveling to Pennsylvania.

"I wasn't very good at it," said Bichette Jr., whose Maitland, Fla., team (2-1) lost its first game Monday. "I just said some one-word answers."

Bichette's father, who is a coach for Maitland, has some experience in the spotlight: Dante Bichette hit 274 home runs during a 14-year major league career.

Now, in sunny South Williamsport, his son is clearly one of the stars.

On Friday, Bichette Jr. struck out 11 batters and hit a three-run homer late in a 7-3 win over Davenport, Iowa. On Saturday, he started a two-run first-inning rally and added an insurance run in the fifth with a solo homer to defeat Newtown, Pa.

Both games were played in prime-time in front of a national television audience.

"As soon as Bichette hit that one out, that was enough," Newtown manager Bill Hartley said dejectedly after Bichette Jr.'s blast cleared the hedges beyond the left-field wall.

With similar faces, the Bichettes would be recognizable as father and son even if they weren't wearing baseball uniforms.

Little Dante's dreams of playing in South Williamsport took hold two years ago on a trip to the Little League World Series with his father. They were just spectators then.

"I said to my dad 'I want to do that some day,'" Bichette Jr. said.

Since then, Bichette says he's been working with his son and teammates. He's not the only former major-leaguer helping the Maitland squad -- Mike Stanley, who played with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, among other teams -- is also a coach.

Like most coaches, they do a little of everything during practice -- throwing baseballs in the batting nets, positioning fielders and working on pitching.

"It's a cool thing for a 12-year-old to do," the elder Bichette said before a recent practice in South Williamsport. "This is their last year of just being a little boy. What a way to top it off."

Bichette is probably best known for his stint in the 1990s with the Blake Street Bombers lineup that powered the Colorado Rockies.

But his son says the best piece of advice he's received from dad was about pitching.

"Keep your head up and don't let anything get to you. Always keep good posture," Bichette Jr. said calmly as he gazed at teammates taking infield practice, his father standing several feet away.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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