Present and future to meet at MLB Little League game in Williamsport

Fri 18 Aug 2017


The city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania is accustomed to having its population of 30,000 swell to over 300,000 for 10 days every August when the Little League World Series comes to town. What they aren’t used to is having Major League Baseball players in their midst as well.

But that will change this Sunday evening, 20 August, when the Pittsburgh Pirates will play the St Louis Cardinals in the MLB Little League Classic at Williamsport’s 91-year-old Minor League facility, BB&T Ballpark, at historic Bowman Field. 

The regular-season game, with both teams still fighting to reach the playoffs, is timed to coincide with the Little League World Series being played just across the river in the borough of South Williamsport.

Origins

The idea of playing an MLB game in Williamsport during the Little League World Series came originally from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who floated it to Little League President and CEO Steve Keener.  The response was immediate and positive.

MLB, under Manfred's leadership, has transformed its approach to showcasing games in more and more innovative settings after playing MLB games in countries such as Japan, Mexico, Australia and Puerto Rico over the past decade.  Last year, MLB took a game to a military audience at Fort Bragg, and in July of this year took over Hyde Park in London to host a Home Run Derby.

Hopefully, this will be followed by MLB games in London in 2019.

BSUK CEO John Boyd, who is also a Little League Board Director, said: “"This weekend's MLB game in Williamsport is an incredible concept.  Playing a game in a stadium full of Little Leaguers must be the purest the game could be.  Baseball has famously been called a kids’ game played by adults, and on Sunday it will be played in front of a crowd of kids who are living the fulfilment of their dream: making it to the Little League World Series.  Huge kudos to MLB and Little League International for a truly innovative partnership."

For more of John’s thoughts about Little League and its value to baseball in the UK and around the world, see this blog that he wrote last year.

So close

Games from the Little League World Series are being televised on BT Sport’s ESPN channel, and the same channel will carry the Pirates v Cardinals game on Sunday night – which can also be watched on MLB At Bat.

This year, there was almost a British team playing in the Little League World Series for the first time.  The LYBL Bulldogs reached the final of the European Qualifying Tournament, only to lose to the team from Emilia in Italy, who are representing the Europe/Africa Region in Williamsport.

We wish the Italian team the best of luck during the tournament!

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