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VP Biden, Rangers' Drury honored at LLWS

New York Rangers center Chris Drury got his big-game experience at a young age, just not in hockey.
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New York Rangers center Chris Drury got his big-game experience at a young age, just not in hockey.Twenty years after pitching Trumbull, Conn., to the Little League World Series title, Drury returned to central Pennsylvania to be enshrined into the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence.Drury picked up his award in front of the plate, not far from the mound where the former pitcher won 1989 title game over Taiwan."Certainly, 20 years ago, I had one of the greatest weeks in my life," said Drury, getting a standing ovation from the crowd as he picked up his honor. "It's certainly not something I'll ever forget."Now 33, Drury played baseball through high school, then moved on to make his mark on the ice. He won the Hobey Baker Award while at Boston University as the best Division I hockey player; a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche; and a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic team.He didn't bite when asked to order his accomplishments."I try to not rank anything, the Stanley Cup, the silver medal," Drury said. "It's something pure and innocent that whole summer growing as a team, growing as a family. ... It's still pretty special to me."Drury drove into South Williamsport on Sunday with three old Little League teammates, Ken Martin, Cody Lee and Chris Kelly. Most of the rest of the squad also recently gathered back home to celebrate the 20th anniversary."He never had butterflies, in any game, or the NHL," Lee joked, patting Drury on the back.Kelly was the only one on the team who played professional ball, spending several years in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. Lee is a mason contractor, while Martin manages a restaurant.___HAIL TO THE VEEP: Also enshrined into the Hall of Excellence was Vice President Joe Biden, who played Little League while growing up in Scranton, about 100 miles east of Little League's headquarters in central Pennsylvania."Folks, I've got to tell the truth ... I've dreamed of this moment my whole life," Biden said.Biden fondly recalled his days playing baseball for the Green Ridge Little League in Scranton at a ceremony before Sunday's title game between California and Taiwan. He said he started out at shortstop before moving to center field.Accompanied by three granddaughters, Biden joked he had designs on accomplishments other than politics as a youngster.If given the choice as an 8-year-old of pitching in the World Series or being vice president, "I would have pitched," he said.Biden's first team was sponsored by a car dealership, and his uniform hung down to his knees. He said he got a stiff neck after waking up the day of his league's opening day because he slept with his glove and baseball.He ended his comments with a resounding command."Now let's watch the two best teams in the world decide who is going to be the world champion in Little League," he shouted. "Let's play ball!"__HAWAII ALOHA: The 2008 Little League champs from Waipahu, Hawaii, returned to South Williamsport, but this time they took in the sights from the top rows of Lamade Stadium.It was worth the 15-hour flight, said 13-year-old Caleb Duhay, the winning pitcher in the title game."Sometimes I feel like I want to get out there and play," Duhay said Saturday during a rain delay in the international title game.Much of the last year has been a whirlwind of autographs and media attention, according to the eight players and parents who made the long trip. Their local Little League bought each player a championship ring.Little League also requested a mold of Duhay's his right arm for display at the Little League museum. He is the first former player to be part of such an exhibit, his father Billy Duhay said.The young men are still playing baseball, though most of them are in high school and on separate teams. Those who made the journey back this year also visited with the team from Chula Vista, Calif., which is playing in the 2009 title game. "It just so much easier this year because I can just relax, and not be stressed out in the dugout," said Kiha Akau, a coach for Hawaii last year.___OLDTIMERS: A pre-game ceremony paid tribute to the 70th anniversary of the start of Little League baseball. About 10 members of the three 1939 teams from that first league in Williamsport were honored with a video tribute and received a standing ovation as they gathered on the mound.