LAKEWOOD RANCH -- It was a typical Little League baseball uniform, Dick Vitale said.
It was white with red lettering and the name of the team's sponsor written across the front of the jersey.
But for Vitale, then a 12-year-old living in Garfield, N.J., it was one of the coolest things he had ever seen.
"I slept in my uniform," he said.
The effervescent Vitale is better known for his legendary broadcasting career, charitable endeavors and books. But long before branding anyone a "Diaper Dandy," Vitale was slinging fastballs for a Little League team sponsored by Mazzo Oil.
It's an experience he cherishes and one that helped land Vitale in his 11th hall of fame later this month when the 73-year-old Lakewood Ranch resident gets inducted into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence in Wil
The ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 18 prior to one of the games of the Little League World Series, and it will send Vitale into an eclectic group that includes the likes of President George W. Bush, Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and rocker and fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen.
"I was thrilled," Vitale said when he got the call.
Enshrinement is open to people who played Little League when they were young and grew into role models once they became adults, according to LittleLeague.org.
"Playing ability is never a factor," the website said.
Sitting inside the office of his Lakewood Ranch home Friday afternoon, Vitale remembered the day he struck out 15 and nearly threw a no-hitter against one of the better teams in the league. After the game was over, he and his family celebrated at a local pizza parlor while his uncles lamented over the scorekeeper's decision to give the opposing team its lone hit rather than charge an error on the first baseman.
But Vitale said Little League taught him more than just how to read a box score.
"It was such a positive experience because, number one, it was my first team I was ever part of. I'd never been on a team before," he said. "You learn about losing, you learn about winning, you learn about success, you learn about failure, you learn about helping one another ... all the parts I tried to utilize in my life and passed along to my daughters, who have now passed it on to their kids.
"It was a building block for me."
He is putting those thoughts on paper when his newest book, "Getting a W in the Game of Life: Using my T.E.A.M. Model to Motivate, Elevate and Be Great," hits shelves this fall.
All the book's proceeds will got toward pediatric cancer research.
"I'm proud of it. We think it's going to sell real well," Vitale said. "It's for kids 8 to 18, and it's all about inspiration and motivation."
For now, Vitale is looking forward to heading to Williamsport with his family in tow for another induction ceremony.
"Any honor is special," he said. "Someone asked me (Friday), 'Is there any one more so than others?' For the moment when it happens, that's the greatest one."