‘Little League Baseball’ was first created in 1938 by Carl Stotz in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The first Little League World Series Tournament was held in 1947: in that first championship, the Maynard Midgets from Williamsport beat an in-state rival team from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, to get crowned as the first Little League World Series Champion.
While the Little League World Series Tournament grew in popularity in the U.S. through the 1950’s, international teams joined in during the ‘60s, and the tournament’s overall popularity exploded. Chinese Taipei, Spain, and Venezuela were some of the first international teams to participate.
National television coverage has continually grown since the ‘60s, and ESPN’s coverage of the Finals and Regionals of the Little League World Series in recent years has given tremendous exposure to the sport.
Format of the Little League World Series
Boys must be age 11 to 13 in order to participate in the tournament. The actual World Series Tournament is held in late August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This year’s Champion will be crowned on August 29th, and will be aired live on ABC TV.
In June and July of each year, Little League teams from around the world select an All-Star team made up of top players from its local leagues. These All-Star teams then go on to compete in district, sectional and regional tournaments. It is the regional champs (from eight geographical regions) that then advance to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. How many games a team has to play varies from region to region. In the United States, the tournaments at the district level may compete via pool play, single elimination, or double elimination.
There are also eight international divisions for the World Series:
- Latin America
- MEA (Middle East–Africa)
Famous Athletes Who Started as Little Leaguers
There are numerous well-recognized professional athletes who competed in the Little League World Series during their adolescent years. They include:
- Derek Bell (MLB)
- Sean Burroughs (MLB)
- Matt Cassel (NFL)
- Chris Drury (NHL)
- Boog Powell (MLB)
Tally of Little League World Series Champions
In the 63 Championships that have been held so far, the rivalry between the U.S. versus the International has been extremely close: U.S. has won 32 times, International has won 31 times. Amongst the international teams, Taiwan has the most crowns (17), followed by Japan, which has six. In terms of the strongest U.S. teams (by state), California has produced six World Series Champions, while Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are tied for second, with four championships each.
In last year’s (2009) World Series Championship game—the team from Chula Vista, CA beat the team from Taoyuan County, Taiwan by a 6-3 score. The 2010 Champion will be crowned next Sunday, August 29th: it promises to be full of drama, excitement, and tears.