Today, the Little League World Series began in South Williamsport (no, not Williamsport), Pennsylvania. Over the next few weeks, you’ll get to know all about Little League baseball. For example, you’ll learn that 12-year-old pitchers are limited to 85 pitches per game, runners can’t leave their base until a pitch crosses home plate, and every player must have one at bat and play three consecutive outs. There are some things you don’t know about Little League and that you might not hear about on ESPN.
1. Little League is made up of volunteers. Everyone you see on TV — from the coaches, umpires, league officials, even the Board of Directors in South Williamsport — are all volunteers. There are people who put in more hours into Little League than they do a full-time job — all so those kids can have a great experience playing baseball.
2. It’s not the 12-year-olds you see on TV who play Little League. There are Little League programs for boys and girls ages 5 through 18, including those with developmental disabilities.
3. You’re only seeing players from 16 out of over 7,000 Little Leagues around the world. There is a Little League in your community where your kids can play.
4. You may be able to register your kids to play Little League now. Most leagues in warmer climates have a Winterball program that runs from September to November where kids can develop their skills.
5. Although we greatly appreciate the sponsorship from large corporations like Subway, Ace Hardware, and Kellogg’s, individual Little Leagues are primarily sponsored by local businesses. Leagues get much needed funding, and businesses can get their name out to the community.
6. Little League has a comprehensive safety program and requires leagues to perform background checks on all volunteers.
7. Little League is for children of all skill levels. We understand that not everyone will wind up playing pro ball or even make their high school team. We do know that everyone can learn to play better baseball and gain the life lessons that come from playing a sport.
8. Every kid you see on TV is just another neighborhood kid. When those kids aren’t playing baseball, they’re playing XBox, skateboarding, doing their homework and household chores, or possibly mustering the courage to ask someone on a date. They may look like sports stars. They may throw 65 mile-per-hour four-seam fastballs and even make SportsCenter Web Gem plays. Still, they’re just kids. Let’s never forget that.