Williamsport hosts one of the best sports series each year—The Little League World Series. People from all over the world flock to our hometown every August to see the tournament. There’s tangible excitement in the air every August. Everyone is eagerly waiting for the tournament to start. You start to see signs pop up welcoming Little Leaguers and their families. We kick off the series with a parade in downtown Williamsport, where you can see all the players who have made it into the series.
This popular annual event unites the world in our hometown. It’s exciting to participate in one of the greatest baseball traditions every summer. Many people go to the games each year, but they may not be aware of the rich history steeped in the World Series. Let’s look into Little League’s origins, how it came to be the major sporting event it is today, and how we celebrate it.
A Snapshot of Little League’s History
Carl Stotz is the founder of Little League baseball. Little League officially began in 1939 and had three initial teams: Lundy Lumber, Jumbo Pretzel, and Lycoming Dairy. After the first year, Williamsport formed another league.
Over the years, the league continued to grow. By 1949, there were 307 leagues in the U.S. There was overwhelming demand to start baseball programs all across the country. Little League went international in 1951, as British Columbia, Canada formed a Little League.
As decades of Little League Baseball passed, the story continued in a similar fashion. More leagues were formed and involved people both in the U.S. and abroad. There are thousands of leagues with various programs that give so many children of all ages the opportunity to play baseball. National interest was apparent as the games are covered on the radio and then on live television.
Now, with a major international presence, sponsors, and offices for the regions of the U.S., Little League is bigger than ever before. A new tradition that started in 2017 is the MLB Little League Classic. Professional baseball teams play at Bowman Field, home of the Williamsport Crosscutters. Little Leaguers get to meet their heroes and professional players can provide encouragement and advice to the young athletes.
A major change that shows the impressive track of Little League’s expansion involves where they played the games. Let’s take a look into the stadiums of Little League.
Little League Stadiums
The area where Little League occurs today is not the original field. Now known as the Carl E. Stotz Field at Memorial Park, the field is a local historic place where fans of Little League can visit where it all started.
They had to move away from the park for positive reasons—Little League was growing! Little League moved from the original site to the Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, which was built in 1959. Since then, the stadium has undergone renovations that include adding lights, additional seating, and accessibility options. While the benches can seat around 8,000-10,000 people, the capacity is around 40,000, including the hill across the field and other spectator areas.
As Little League’s popularity grew, the teams that played in the series went from 8 to 16 in 2001. An additional stadium was built to accommodate the increase. Little League Volunteer Stadium was built next to Howard J. Lamade Stadium and has seating for about 5,000 people. You will typically see games here in the beginning of the tournament.
Let’s break down the ins and outs of who plays in the Little League World Series. In order to be eligible, players need to be at 10-12 years of age. They need to play during Little League’s regular season to qualify for the series that year.
The Little League World Series has 16 teams. The two sides of the bracket are divided into 8 teams from the United States and the International teams.
- Great Lakes Region
- Mid-Atlantic Region
- Midwest Region
- New England Region
- Northwest Region
- Southeast Region
- Southwest Region
- West Region
- Asia-Pacific Region
- Australia Region
- Canada Region
- Caribbean Region
- Europe-Africa Region
- Japan Region
- Latin America Region
- Mexico Region
After two teams emerge victorious from their bracket, they play in the World Series final.
As spectators, seeing the teams progress and the frontrunners make themselves known is always exciting. While the energy for the beginning games may feel more relaxed, as teams approach the quarterfinals the energy becomes more palpable. The stands are filled as is the hill that many people love to watch the games on. If you’re going to the games during that time, make sure to get there early!
Little League Pin Collecting
While there are definitely people who look forward to the gameplay each year, that’s not the only area of interest when Little League season rolls around.
Little League’s culture has a life of its own in Williamsport. Even if you’re not the biggest baseball fan, there’s a major interest in pin collecting. We even have our own pin!
One of the best aspects of pin collecting is that it’s a hobby for everyone. There’s no barrier to entry in terms of age or interest in baseball. All it takes is for you to like pins and want to acquire a collection of your own.
Pin collecting also invites social interactions. Many pin collectors like to connect, make trades, and it’s an opportunity to talk to people you wouldn’t normally have met. This is the perfect time to make new friendships. If people live far away but try to make it to Little League, you’ll be able to catch up each year.
If you’re interested in getting into pin trading here are a few quick etiquette tips:
- Introduce yourself and be friendly. Ask if the other person wants to trade.
- Don’t touch someone else’s pin collection unless it’s okay with them.
- Trade equally. Don’t try to give someone pins that are of lesser value to what you want from them.
- Talk about the pins! Their history is what makes them so intriguing and special. Bring up what year they’re from, how you got them, and any other facts you can share.
- Always be polite—don’t badger someone to trade with you or get in the middle of a trade that’s already happening. Thank the person after you’ve completed a trade.
Remember this is a hobby that’s supposed to bring joy—not stress!
An Everlasting Legacy
When Carl Stotz started Little League, his goal was to create a sport for Williamsport boys to teach them essential lessons that would benefit them for the rest of their lives. Over the years, it’s grown to be that and more. Many young baseball players worldwide dream of playing in this tournament and it’s up to us to continue the legacy.
As citizens of Williamsport, we embrace this cornerstone of our history and get to celebrate it every year. In the spirit of the series, we’re a city that welcomes all visitors with friendly smiles and open arms, because friendship and support is the true nature of Little League.
You can be a part from the start at the Little League Grand Slam Parade on Wednesday, August 14. Be here to cheer the teams and make them feel at home. The celebration downtown continues on Friday, August 23 at Williamsport Welcomes the World. If you want to know more about these events and the other summer happenings in Billtown, check out our guide.
Enjoy Little League
Legal InSites is a digital marketing agency in Williamsport that loves all the city has to offer. We’re all excited for the World Series and encourage everyone to go see a game—or if you’re like us, as many as possible! See you there!