The Little League World Series is a 16-team pool play baseball tournament held each August in South Williamsport, Pa. The teams consist of players who are between the ages of 11 and 12 (some kids are 13 by the time the World Series begins). It is one of eight championship tournaments put on by Little League International. The others are Junior League (13-14), Senior League (14-16), Big League (16-18), Little League Softball (11-12), Junior League Softball (13-14), Senior League Softball (14-16) and Big League Softball (16-18).
The first Little League World Series was held in 1947 in South Williamsport. A team from Williamsport defeated Lock Haven, Pa., 16-7 for the championship.
In the first World Series, all the teams except one were from Pennsylvania. At the time, Little League only existed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Within a few years, Little League was played in all states, and the first Little Leagues outside the 48 states were in Panama, Canada and Hawaii, in 1950.
The first international champion was from Monterey, Mexico, in 1957.
The championship was first televised in 1953 (by CBS).
Games are played at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium. Lamade Stadium, which was built in 1959, can seat more than 40,000 spectators between the grandstands and a grassy berm that surrounds the stadium. Admission to all LLWS games is free.
Volunteer Stadium, which can accommodate roughly 5,000, was built in 2001, when the field of the LLWS expanded to 16 teams.
Both stadiums are symmetrical, with the outfield fence 225 feet from home plate.
Qualifying begins after each Little League organization picks an all-star team to compete in district, sectional and state tournaments. Based on how many teams are in each region, the tournaments might be single-elimination, double-elimination or pool play. Each state champion then advances to a regional tournament (Texas and California send two representatives). The regional champs then advance to the World Series.
According to Little League International, 16,000 games are played in 45 days. There are more games played in the 45-day tournament than in six full seasons of Major League Baseball.
The regions represented are:
- New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT)
- Mid-Atlantic (DE, DC, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
- Midwest (IA, KA, MN, MO, ND/SD, NE)
- Great Lakes (IN, IL, KY, MI, OH, WI)
- Southeast (AL, FL, GA, NC, SC, TE, VA, WV)
- Southwest (AR, CO, LA, MI, NM, OK, East Texas, West Texas)
- Northwest (AK, ID, OR, MT, WA, WY)
- West (AZ, Southern CA, Northern CA, HI, NV, UT)
The eight divisions that compete in the International Bracket are Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Latin America, Japan, Asia-Pacific, Europe-Middle East-Africa and Trans-Atlantic.
At the World Series, the teams in each bracket are divided into two four-team pools. Each team plays three games against the other teams in their pool, and the top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinal round (first place in one pool plays second place in the other pool). The winners of those games compete for the bracket championship, and the winners of each bracket compete in the championship game.
United States teams have won the most championships, with 28 through 2006. Taiwan is next with 17.
Teams from 23 countries/territories and 38 U.S. states have advanced to the Little League Baseball World Series. Countries that have won the Little League Baseball World Series are Curacao, South Korea, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.
Eligibility And Controversy:
The biggest controversies in LLWS history have been about eligibility, the most noteworthy occurring in 2001 involving the Bronx, N.Y., team, led by dominant pitcher Danny Almonte, who was later found to be 14 years old. The team, which won the title on the field, forfeited to a team from Japan.
In 1992, a victorious team from the Phillipines was ruled ineligible because some of its players did not meet residency requirements. Long Beach, Calif., was named champion.
Teams now must have birth certificates that prove that all players did not turn 13 before May of the year of that year's Little League World Series.
All expenses for all teams, including travel, are paid by Little League International. Teams are housed in dormitories and fed at no charge,and all teams are provided with the same accommodations, without regard to their economic status.
To date, 12 girls have played in the Little League World Series. The first, Victoria Roche, played in 1984 for the team that represented Brussels (Belgium) Little League.
Famous Former Little League World Series Players:
- Gary Sheffield, MLB player, 1980, Tampa, Fla.
- Jason Bay, MLB player, 1990, Trail, B.C.
- Derek Bell, MLB player, 1980-81, Tampa, Fla.
- Ray Ferraro, NHL player, 1976, Trail, B.C.
- Lloyd McClendon, MLB player and manager, 1971, Gary, Ind.
- Carney Lansford, MLB player, Santa Clara, Calif.
- Jason Marquis, MLB player, 1991, Staten Island, N.Y.
- Lastings Milledge, MLB player, Bradenton, Fla.
- Boog Powell, MLB player, 1954, Lakeland, Fla.
- Jason Varitek, MLB player, 1984, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
- Pierre Turgeon, NHL player, 1982, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec
- Brian Sipe, NFL player, 1961, El Cajon, Calif.