NATIONAL LITTLE LEAGUE MONTH
Batter up! September is National Little League Month!
The history of Little League baseball extends as far back as the game of baseball itself. During the Revolutionary War, soldiers of the Continental Army reportedly played an early version of the game. Primarily derived from the British game cricket, baseball rules began to take shape during this era. During the Civil War, soldiers on both sides played baseball to pass the time between battles. As a result, the Civil War not only introduced the idea of freedom but also launched the game that would become as American as apple pie.
Little league baseball appeared for children during the 1880s in New York. Unfortunately, adult “club” teams were linked to youth teams. For this reason, the sport struggled to gain attention. However, children still played “pickup” baseball in streets or sandlots, even though the equipment was substandard. Substandard equipment plagued the early years of Little League, with cast-off bats and balls often taped and re-taped. Furthermore, catcher’s gear in children sizes rarely existed. In 1938, Carl Stotz organized a baseball league for the boys in his hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Having no sons of his own, Carl often played ball with his young nephews and wanted a way to provide an organized program for them.
The earliest Little League teams reflected names of the businesses that sponsored them, including a local dairy, a lumber company, and a pretzel factory. The first Little League game occurred between the Lundy Lumber and the Lycoming Dairy on June 6, 1939. Lundy won, defeating Lycoming by a score of 23-8. Two years later, in 1947, Maynard Midgets earned the first Little League baseball champion crown. Because Little League spread rapidly, by 1957, other countries participated in Little League baseball. The first team outside the U.S. to win the Little league World Series was from Monterrey, Mexico.
In 1974, Little League modified the rules allowing girls to play in a once all-boy sport. Today, Little League Baseball has become the world’s largest organized youth sports program. Predictably, 45 major league ballplayers, including Devon Travis, Ruben Tejada, and Jonathan Shoop, attribute their start in baseball to Little League.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Support the Little League teams in your community by volunteering to coach a local team.
Use #NationalLittleLeagueMonth in your social media correspondence.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared Little League Week in 1954. In six decades, Little League grew from three teams to nearly 200,000 teams. All 50 states in the U.S. states and more than 80 countries participate in Little League today.