When summertime rolls around it’s the season for swimming pools, barbecues, and of course, baseball and your favorite pair of youth baseball socks. As summer slowly winds to a close in the next few weeks and we prepare for school again, there is one event that is just kicking into full swing; the Little League World Series.
Played in late August, the Little League World Series is one of the most exciting, family-oriented events on the summer sporting calendar. Teams of 11 and 12-year-old baseball players from around the world spend almost two weeks in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, battling it out to the top.
How It All Started
Founded by Carl Stolz in 1938, Little League Baseball was founded in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Stolz enjoyed playing baseball with his young nephews and decided to create an organized league that they could play in.
He spent hours and hours creating the best combinations of field sizes and playing equipment, and finally, after a year of work, games officially began on June 6, 1939. The three original teams in the league were Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber, and Jumbo Pretzel.
Year by year, Little League Baseball expanded to 12 leagues in the state of Pennsylvania, and by 1947, the first league outside of the state was created. By the end of the 1950’s, there were over 300 leagues formed across the United States. Some 80 years later, Little League Baseball is made up of over 180,000 teams from around the globe.
The Little League World Series Begins
The Little League World Series’ first games were held in August 1947 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. There were 12 teams competing from around the area. The championship game, played by Lock Haven and the home team of Williamsport, drew over 2,500 spectators giving rise to the tradition that we’ve come to love every summer in central Pennsylvania.
It didn’t take long for the Little League World Series to draw major attention. Just six years after the very first tournament was held, the games began being televised on CBS. From 1953-1960 CBS covered the event before ABC took over. The tournament officially switched over to ESPN in 2007 has been aired there each year since.
The Rest of the World Joins the Little League Fun
In 1958, the American Little League organization began letting international competition join the tournament for the first time. Four teams outside of the U.S. played in that year’s games in which a team from Monterrey, Mexico, took home the championship title.
From 1969 to 1991 the tournament games were dominated by teams from Taiwan. The international teams won 15 championships out of the 23 that were played in that time span. From 2010 to now, teams from Japan have also dominated by winning five out of the last eight matchups.
How the LLWS Games Are Played
While the LLWS is often thought to be one round of games, it is actually one of twelve tournaments sponsored by the Little League International organization. Spread over 12 locations, each region brings community teams around the world together for baseball games in five age divisions, girls’ softball in four age divisions, and boys’ hardball in three age divisions.
In the months leading up to the LLWS, a team made up of all-star players is selected from its league. These all-star teams then compete in district, sectional, and regional tournaments hoping to earn their way to Williamsport. How many games each team plays varies from region to region and depend on whether the tournaments include pool play and double or single elimination.
If teams make it past district, sectional, and regional tournaments, they then advance to state tournaments. Every state, as well as the District of Columbia crown one champion team, with the exception of South Dakota and North Dakota who crown one team to represent both states, and Texas and California who crown two per state due to their large size and populations. From state championships, the winning teams go on to compete in one of eight regional tournaments. Each regional tournament champion moves on to the Little League World Series.
International countries and regions have their own way of crowning teams to come to Williamsport for the LLWS. The Little League World Series ultimately ends up being played by 16 teams; eight from the U.S. and eight from other countries. Prior to 2001, there were four U.S. teams and four international teams. Since changing the rules in 2001, the format has been consistent. The 16 teams are split into four pool teams. Two of the pools are made up of international teams and two of them consist of U.S. teams.
The eight U.S. teams represent the following regions: Great Lakes, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West. The eight divisions from the international bracket represent the following countries/regions: Asia/Pacific, Canada, Australia, Caribbean, Japan, Europe/Africa, Mexico, and Latin America.
When pool play is completed, the top two teams from each pool advance to a semi-final round. The winners of the semi-final games play in the International and American finals. Then the winner of the International side and the winner of the American side face off in the championship game.
Where the Little League World Series Games Take Place
Two venues ultimately host the Little League World Series games. Both are located in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and are the Howard J. Lamade Stadium and the Little League Volunteer Stadium. Lamade Stadium has hosted the LLWS games since 1959 and lights were added in 1992. Volunteer stadium opened in 2001 when the tournament expanded to 16 teams. Prior to 1959, all the games were held at the Original Little League on West Fourth Street in Williamsport.
The fields have symmetrical fences with a distance of 225 feet from home plate to each outfield position. The distance before 2006 was 205 feet.
Remarkably, admission to all Little League World Series games is free for spectators. Lamade Stadium has a berm beyond the fences, and including the berm, has allowed the facility to host up to 45,000 spectators. However, the demand for stadium seats for the championship game is so high, seats are distributed in a random drawing to interested parties. Games in earlier rounds, mostly for Pennsylvania teams, use a first-come, first-serve admission if big crowds are anticipated.
Some Famous Athletes Got Their Start in the LLWS
Since beginning in 1947, the Little League World Series has had several participants that have gone on to have notable careers in sports, but not just in Major League Baseball. A few have gone on to the NFL and even the NHL. The current third baseman for the New York Yankees, Todd Frazier, was on the championship team in 1998. Nine-time MLB All-Star Gary Sheffield played for Tampa, Florida, in 1980 when they were the runner-up in the championship game.
Stanley Cup winner Chris Drury was a Little League World Series winner in 1989 and Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Cassel reached the final round of the tournament in 1994 with his team from California. So, don’t be surprised if some of the youngsters you see this year become a superstar in the major leagues one of these days.
Baseball Uniforms & Youth Baseball Socks for the LLWS
Baseball players may play different positions on the field, use different bats, and wear different baseball gloves, but there is one thing that all the players on one team have in common; they all wear the same uniform. That uniform almost always includes youth baseball socks.
Whether you’re on the team or your cheering on your favorite team in the stands or even from your living room, you need a good pair of baseball socks or youth baseball socks, depending on your shoe size. MadSportsStuff has just the right pair of baseball socks to suit your needs and help you be the best player or fan that you can be. They have youth baseball socks and adult baseball socks in all the popular team colors including styles such as USA Flag, digital camo, and much more. You can even have your youth baseball socks custom made. Browse the full collection of youth baseball socks from MadSportsStuff!
Youth baseball socks from MadSportsStuff are always made in the U.S.A. and feature moisture-wicking fabrics, arch support, ankle compression, blister control, and are anti-bacterial. Whether you’re buying one pair of baseball socks or enough youth baseball socks for the entire team, MadSportsStuff is the perfect place to get your baseball socks.
Follow the LLWS Action
The Little League World Series 2018 will be the 72nd year of the tournament and starts on August 16th where the Caribbean Region will take on the Asian-Pacific Region, the Mid-Atlantic Region will take on the Midwest Region, the Mexico Region will take on the Australia Region, and the New England Region will face off against the Southwest Region.
Games will be aired on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. and will conclude with the Little League World Series Championship Game on Sunday, August 26 at 3 p.m. on ABC.
Don’t forget your youth baseball socks from MadSportsStuff!