While teaching baseball's next generation, Todd Frazier surprised at Citi Field by his Little League teammates

Todd Frazier might be set to return to the New York Mets lineup after a July 9 rib cage strain removed him from the hot corner.

But even better than retaking his spot at third base might have been a surprise reunion with some of his old Little League World Series teammates, which is exactly what happened earlier this summer at Citi Field.

Frazier has been working for years to ensure that kids discover the same kind of joy he gets out of baseball. And he used the Mets' ballpark in June, with the 2018 Todd Frazier Clinic, to do just that. But one thing in particular may have confirmed his commitment to talking up the importance of baseball in childhood, and that was real-life relics of his own childhood -- an unannounced appearance by two of his former Little League pals during an interview with CBS Sports HQ.

It's no wonder, then, that the 32-year-old two-time All-Star had no trouble sharing about his longtime love for the game that day.

Frazier, remember, has been around the game since long before he joined the Mets -- long before he entered MLB, actually. He first made headlines on the diamond as a preteen, the 12-year-old star of the 1998 Little League World Series, which even earned him recognition alongside one of his future teammates, Derek Jeter.

And ever since then, the veteran third baseman has taken pride in touting the childhood awe of baseball and sports in general.

But the former Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees slugger probably had his mission -- to remind kids just why he still loves playing the game -- reinvigorated by his own encounter with the kids who played alongside him.

"We wanted to try to bring all the kids together for that bond, that friendship (of) playing sports," he told CBS Sports HQ before pumping up dozens of aspiring players that afternoon: "Let's go, let's get after it ... and let's have fun!"

Frazier added that he wished he had a clinic led by MLB talent when he was younger, even if his own Little League stardom paved the way to a life in baseball. To him, the game started capturing his heart simply because his siblings played it -- "Anything my brothers did, which they loved playing baseball, I loved." But it stayed with him when he realized how much it added to his life.

"I just started loving it more and more," he said. "There's so much that goes along with that word 'fun' ... and (you) learn from each other."

Far removed from his Little League days, Frazier still holds his childhood teammates close to his heart, and that's because, like baseball itself, they instilled in him unforgettable values.

"I would say 'thank you,' for one," he said. "They actually taught me teamwork ... and what you can do to help the team before you can help yourself."

That's virtually the same attitude that drives Frazier to preach baseball's importance to future generations. It's why, at age 32, with years of MLB experience already under his belt and millions of dollars already earned, he keeps on giving. For the teamwork. For the friendships. And for all the fun.

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