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June 16, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Little League number retired for A's outfielder Eric Byrnes Little League number retired for A's outfielder Eric Byrnes (June 16, 2004)

By Jennifer Nuckols
Special to the Almanac

Oakland A's outfielder Eric Byrnes, a star player for the local Morey's Little League team from 1985 to 1988, returned to Ford Field in Portola Valley on June 10 for a ceremony in his honor: The team retired his number, Morey's # 9.

Byrnes, who grew up in Woodside, still holds the Morey's team career home-run record, addressed the current crop of Little League players: "You guys go home and keep thanking your parents every single day for letting you play baseball."

His father, Jim Byrnes, of Menlo Park, was one of many in attendance. "I've never heard of a Little League jersey being retired," he said. "It's heart warming."

Tom Sutter, Byrnes' Little League coach and Morey's coach for more than 30 years, said it's the first time the league -- Alpine-West Menlo -- has had a major-league player.

However, John Gall, a former Morey's teammate of Byrnes, was called up on June 11 to play with the St. Louis Cardinal's, said Sutter.

Byrnes is batting .305 for the A's.

"He is such a wonderful role model for my son," said Don Raub, whose son wore Byrnes' number when he played for the Morey's. "He stayed to give autographs for every single kid that wanted one."

"I'm even more proud of his off-field behavior," said Jim Byrnes. "There's always been someone better than him. But you don't have to be the best if you're disciplined and focused."

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