Littlefield, David (2017)
“Dave Littlefield is all class. He can talk to you. He’s very warm, very intelligent but he doesn’t come across as an egotist. Didn’t then and he won’t now.’
- Bill Wilhelm, Former Head Baseball coach at Clemson University
I would like to thank all the people involved in my being selected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Especially, I want to thank my family, Joanna my wife and our children Andrea and Derrick. I love them very much. They have supported me and sacrificed many times during my career.
Also, I’d like to acknowledge my parents, Mike and Nancy Littlefield, siblings, Debbie Wang, Shelly Myhaver, Anne Foster, and Scott and Mark Littlefield, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and the many friends that have meant so much to me through the years.
Mentors have had such an influential role in my life, from Portland, Maine, to UMass, to Clemson University, to Cape Cod, and to my many years in pro baseball. I also want to thank all of them and let them know how much I appreciate their guidance, direction and friendship.
- David littlefield
He’s worked for 29 years in major league offices, enough time to put Portland, Maine in his rearview mirror but to hear Dave Littlefield recount his baseball journey, it’s the formative influences from his hometown that propelled him to national prominence.
“Growing up in Portland, my dad (Mike) was a pitcher for Freddy Harlow at Deering, says Littlefield. Coach Harlow used to let me catch fungoes, chase foul balls and be the bat boy during games. The neighborhood boys and I played behind Deering High School all day, with an Italian and a quart of chocolate milk for lunch.”
Dave played Babe Ruth ball for Joe and Pat Delaney (“the nicest guys on earth!”) and stepped up to All-Stars under the estimable Lou Tripaldi (“a real student of the game; way ahead of his time with what he taught us”).
Dave played for the legendary Edson Hadlock at Portland High School, winning state championships his sophomore and junior years. “Coach Hadlock was a great man and mentor. He was tough but he taught me a lot about baseball and life,” says Littlefield.
Dave pastimed for two summers for the Andrews Post legion team under the gruff command of Frank Archer (“a different guy, but smart like a fox and hard nosed”) and the amiable Dave Quinn.
“Looking back, I was so lucky to have so many coaches with excellent experience who helped me learn how to compete and train at the skill work and mental aspects of baseball,” said a grateful Littlefield.
Though he had a football scholarship waiting for him at UMass, Dave opted to give pro ball a whirl and spent three seasons in the Phillies and Yankees organizations, toiling in the minor league backwaters of Spartanburg, Rocky Mount and Paintsville. “My minor league career was a great experience,” recounts Littlefield, “but not real successful. I was a catcher but hit like a pitcher.”
Returning home, Dave coached his brothers Scott and Mark in Babe Ruth and assisted Ron Lemieux on the 1981 All-Star team that went to the World Series.
Littlefield finally took up that football scholarship in the fall of 1981 at UMass but blew out his knee covering a punt in the last game of the season.
His football career ended, Dave walked in to the UMass head baseball coach Dick Bergquist’s office and asked if he could volunteer and help coach the catchers. That modest assignment was the spark that led to a career in coaching, recruiting and evaluating players. Littlefield coached at UMass for 3 years, adding 2 summers coaching at Orleans in the Cape Cod League. He earned his undergraduate degree in Marketing in 1984 and added a masters in Sports Management in 1988.
Littlefield’s coaching career really took off when he was hired as a full-time assistant to Bill Wilhelm, the legendary head baseball coach at Clemson University. From 1986-88, Dave was instrumental in helping Clemson to a resurgence in its baseball program and a perennial major college powerhouse. “Bill Wilhelm helped me in so many ways,” Littlefield acknowledged, coaching, recruiting, looking at the game, developing work habits, grit and toughness.”
Littlefield’s recruiting prowess at Clemson caught the eye of Detroit Tigers scouting director Jax Robertson who hired Dave as a scout. He became the East Coast scouting supervisor for the Tigers in 1989 and after three years with the Tigers, joined the Montreal Expos as a national cross-checker in 1992.
After two and a half years with Montreal, Littlefield became the Florida Marlins Assistant GM under the tutelage of Dave Dombrowski. From 2001 through 2007, he was the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Following his departure from the Pirates, he served a seven-season stint as a major league scout for the Chicago Cubs. He was hired by the Tigers as a major league scout in 2014 and the following year was promoted to Vice President of Player Development, the position he holds today.
Dave Littlefield’s long and respected run as an executive at the highest levels of professional baseball’s front offices no doubt affords him the option of having more than an Italian and a quart of chocolate milk for lunch, though you get the feeling he’d be right at home doing so with brothers Scott and Mark and his Portland High teammates. The Maine Baseball Hall of Fame is proud to open its doors to a native son who continues to have a national impact on the game.
"Scouting and player development is the way to go," Littlefield said. "It's just a more efficient way to get things done in the market we're in. I don't see that there's any magic going on in any other organizations. We have to be more efficient. We have to make good decisions. We can do it."
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