National Little League Baseball Week is celebrated annually during the second week of June, and this has been a tradition for over 80 years now. It takes place from June 12 to 18 this year. The program began with the intention of bringing communities together and aiding in the development of young people into well-rounded citizens of society. The Little League’s motto is, ‘Character, Courage, and Loyalty.’ Clearly, this vision has had an enormous impact not just in the U.S., but all around the world, as today it is played in over 80 countries (and all 50 states of the U.S.). The Little League has always stood for fair play, sportsmanship, and teamwork; so it’s little wonder that it is so popular even today.
History of National Little League Baseball Week
Though Little League itself was a program that began two decades before, it was only in 1959 (on the 20th anniversary) that President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared National Little League Baseball Week as an official week to commemorate the benefits of Little League. According to Eisenhower, this week was worth instituting because it served to increase interest in the game of baseball itself, and encouraged a lot of younger people to direct their energy into a healthy, physical competition, while simultaneously instilling values in them which would last for a lifetime.
The history of baseball itself has rather murky origins, due to many myths surrounding its invention. Its precursors are said to be the English sports of cricket and rounders, but the game of baseball (as we know it today) is purely an American invention, somewhere in the mid-1800s. In the 1840s, there was a man called Alexander Joy Cartwright, who played a game they called ‘base ball’, in New York. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), many of the soldiers would play baseball in between battles to pass time, so by the end of the 1800s the game got its title as “America’s pastime”. During the 1920s, there was a program started for teenage boys which were called the “American Legion,” and schools also inculcated the sport into their physical education programs. However, there was still a gap because there was no avenue for pre-teen boys who wanted to play the sport. Till along came Little League.
Little League was started in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, by Carl E. Stotz. Stotz did not have any sons, but in 1938 he began to think about how his nephews enjoyed the game, yet lacked any organized program for playing it. In 1939, Stotz and his wife Grayce, together with Bert and George Bebble, roused up their local community and began Little League, by raising funds for uniforms and equipment through local sponsorship. Together they became the initial board members of Little League and the first game was played in an old lot on June 6. Initially, the Little League was founded only for boys, between the ages of eight and twelve. However, this changed in 1974, when girls of the same age group were also admitted to the league, and softball was also included. Little League now has three main divisions, based on age groups — junior, senior, and big league respectively. In 1990, Little League also began a new inclusive program for children with mental and physical disabilities, which was named the “Challenger Division.”
National Little League Baseball Week timeline
In New York, what’s considered the first competitive baseball game takes place between two clubs.
Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer write ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ which becomes an unofficial anthem of the sport.
Formed by Carl E. Stotz, his wife Grayce, and brothers George and Bert Bebble, the Little League program is launched.
With the help of the votes of family members, Stotz chooses the famous Keystone logo as the official Little League logo.
Girls are given entry into Little Leagues, changing things up in the predominantly male sport.
National Little League Baseball Week FAQs
Are Little League baseballs smaller?
The balls used by major leagues and minor leagues differ slightly in quality. Little League uses softballs made by the sporting goods company Spalding, which are 12-inch softballs. These have smaller seams and the leather is of better quality than the balls used by minor leagues.
What are the odds of a Little League baseball player making the Major League?
The odds of ending up playing for Major League Baseball are quoted as one in 200, by some. That means that only about 0.5% of boys who play baseball in school have a chance of making it into any team in the M.L.B.
When did Little League start?
Little League was started in 1939 when Carl E. Stotz realized that he enjoyed playing baseball with his nephews, but there was no organized program for them to be a part of. Together with his wife Grayce, and brothers Bert and George Bebble (and their wives), he started a program to provide a healthy space for young boys to play the sport and learn important values about teamwork, fair play, and sportsmanship.
National Little League Baseball Week Activities
Join up and participate
Little League is a great program to get involved with in some way or the other. Find out how you can volunteer and contribute meaningfully by visiting the official website. You can also visit your local or nearest Little League center to find out more.
Try your hand at baseball
If you're a veteran, a beginner, or somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t matter. Baseball is a sport that can still be enjoyed by all ages and walks of life. They don’t call it ‘America’s Pastime’ for nothing, after all! And if baseball seems too daunting, softball or challenger are also part of the Little League offerings.
Soak in the thrill of the game
Be it attending a ball game and feeling the adrenaline pulse through you from the bleachers, or experiencing that same feeling while watching a game on the big screen — immerse yourself in the fandom and excitement of rooting for a team and enjoying the game. There have been plenty of amazing films and documentaries made around baseball too if cinema is more to your taste than the live sport. Either way, we recommend you take time out this week to really appreciate the sport and the ways in which it can create impact.
5 Facts About Little League Which Will Have Your Head Spinning
The world’s largest sports program
Little League is the largest organized sports program for youth in the world.
Over two million participants
Over two million little boys and girls play in Little Leagues from all over the world.
Seven World Series are held
Little League holds seven World Series, with the oldest being Little League Baseball World Series, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
It has its own museum
The formal title is The World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store, which houses interactive exhibits for children, including a complete Babe Ruth uniform.
It produced 30 Hall of Fame-ers
The National Baseball Hall of Fame has at least 30 members in it who were Little League players originally.
Why We Love National Little League Baseball Week
A program for youth
Baseball as a sport had been around for about a century before Stotz began Little League. But there was no organized space or program for young children and youth to participate in, and many children would play baseball in the streets or parks, lacking the right equipment and coaching. We love that Little League was a direct solution to this issue, revolutionizing the sport by making it accessible across age groups.
Community-building through sport
By instilling values that help mold young people into better citizens, Little League stands in a league of its own in this endeavor. The program has spread like wildfire across the nation, and even the globe, due to its inclusivity and community-based values. It is one of the largest sports programs for youth in the world today.
It celebrates baseball
While England has its cricket and other countries have their culturally special sport, we have baseball; the great “American pastime” which has deservedly earned that name. Given that baseball is played in every state of the U.S., it is a part and parcel of American culture and deserves a week of its own, as the sport is so beloved by Americans (and others) all over.
National Little League Baseball Week dates