The Encino Little League sits in the shadow of the Ventura Freeway, a second home for generations of kids raised in the San Fernando Valley.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, played in the Encino Little League.
So did David Forst, general manager of the Oakland Athletics. So did Torey Lovullo, manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Gabe Kapler, the manager of the San Francisco Giants.
That local knowledge might win you a beer or two in some trivia night along Ventura Boulevard, but bragging rights belong to the players, and the best player produced by the Encino Little League in this generation will be staring down his hometown team Monday.
He is Max Fried, the Atlanta Braves’ starting pitcher for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.
He was not a natural, at least not as soon as he showed up for T-ball. They gave Fried a bat, and he hit the ball and ran the wrong way.
“He didn’t have a clue,” said Jeff Cohen, who succeeded Fried’s father as president of the league. “He hit left-handed and ran to third base.”
Fried soon dominated, leading an Encino team to a district championship for the first time. When the coach asked Fried whether he wanted to get the last out of the district final, to cap his star turn, he said no.
“It was his world,” Cohen said. “He said to the other pitcher, ‘This is your game.’ ”
Fried had plenty of games of his own. He starred at Montclair Prep and then at Harvard-Westlake High, and he