SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – Little League Baseball®, the world’s largest youth sports organization, has officially launched its Diamond Anniversary year, announcing an exciting slate of programming that celebrates the fundamental values of the program – community, family, friendly competition and relationships that last a lifetime. Little League was founded in 1939, when the first Little League game was played in Williamsport on June 6 of that year.
Earlier this week, as part of the anniversary celebration, Little League screened a preview of “Little League: The History,” an original documentary film created by VIA Studios Global, a division of WVIA Public Media, airing June 2014 (check local listings for dates). A lively panel discussion at the World of Little League®: Peter J. McGovern Museum followed the screening, and featured Stephen D. Keener, Little League president and chief executive officer; Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, president of Pennsylvania College of Technology and chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors; Lance Van Auken, Little League vice president and executive director of the World of Little League; Thomas “Tuck” Frazier, a member of the 1939 inaugural team; Greg Matkosky, documentary producer and director and VIA Studios Global/WVIA creative director for Documentary Films; and Karen Stotz Myers, daughter of Little League founder Carl E. Stotz. The event can be viewed on YouTube and on LittleLeagueBigLegacy.com.
“Over the course of our rich 75-year history, through the many life lessons learned on the diamonds, from notable athletes to incredible entertainers, writers, philanthropists and citizens, Little League Baseball and Softball can proudly say it develops major league people,” said Keener.
“We are so thrilled to be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Little League and look forward to helping children continue to develop the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical well-being along with the virtues of character, courage and loyalty for many years to come.”
The anniversary will be celebrated at the 7,000 local Little Leagues around the world, and the millions of volunteers, alumni, families and players are encouraged to share in the celebration on social media with the official hashtag: #LittleLeague75. This year also marks major milestones in the history of Little League, with the celebrations of the 40th Anniversary of Little League Softball®, 25th Anniversary of the Little League Challenger Division® and 15th Anniversary of the Little League Urban Initiative.
“Little League Baseball and Softball is a cherished tradition in our country and around the world,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “This organization has provided millions of young people with the opportunity to play the greatest sport ever created, and Little League has allowed them to learn, grow and develop lifelong friendships through the National Pastime. Major League Baseball and our Clubs are proud that we will honor Little League’s 75th Anniversary throughout the 2014 Championship Season and at our 85th All-Star Game this summer in Minneapolis.”
People can visit LittleLeagueBigLegacy.com for information on the history of the Little League program, an interactive timeline, photos and videos celebrating Little League and to get the most up to date information on events and activities and how they can commemorate the organization’s 75th Anniversary, including:
Major League Baseball Little League Days – Throughout the 2014 Major League Baseball season, many Major League clubs around the United States and Canada may celebrate Little League and Youth Baseball and Softball Days to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Little League. These events will celebrate Little League Baseball and Softball in their community. Major League Baseball will also honor Little League’s Diamond Anniversary during MLB All-Star Week this summer in Minneapolis, Minn.
Little League® Big Legacy Project – Little League is creating a unique, digital baseball mosaic with images spanning 75 years of Little League memories. People are encouraged to submit photos to LittleLeagueBigLegacy.com. For each photo submitted, Little League will donate $1, up to $50,000, to Pitch in for Baseball, a non-profit organization that helps provide equipment to local baseball and softball programs in need. The mosaic will be unveiled on June 6. For everyone wanting to share their Little League memories on social media, the official hashtag for the Big Legacy Project is #LittleLeagueBigLegacy.
Charles Fazzino Official Art and Educational Workshops – Nationally-celebrated pop artist Charles Fazzino, will be working with fifth grade students from Pennsylvania schools in Lycoming and Sullivan counties to create a one-of-a-kind work of art. Fazzino, who has created similar works of art for 11 NFL Super Bowls, six MLB All Star Games and many other major sport and cultural events, will unveil his one-of-a-kind work at the 2014 Little League Baseball® World Series, which will become a permanent exhibition at the World of Little League®: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store at Little League International Headquarters in South Williamsport. The project, initiated by the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, will also involve multiple levels of students throughout the region in developing pieces of art that will be displayed alongside Fazzino’s works at the Gallery at Penn College on the campus of Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Educational Initiative – To enhance its online information resources, in October of 2013, Little League established a direct communication vehicle for Little League Parents. The new Web site (LittleLeague.org/Parents) and newsletter (The Parent Connection) allows Little League to have an open dialogue with parents, guardians and caretakers of Little Leaguers from around the world.
In 2014, some highlights include the formation of a Parent Advisory Committee, and details on the organization’s new partnership with the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which is launching an educational program for parents on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. Little League will also work with longtime partner, Positive Coaching Alliance, to provide new and enhanced educational resources for Little League parents and coaches.
The new parent’s communications initiative joins the Coaches Resource Center and Umpire Resource Center as valuable tools for Little League International to not only educate parents and volunteers, but to learn from them as well.
The 26th Little League International Congress, April 4-7 – Little League Volunteers from around the world will gather in Minneapolis, Minn., for Little League’s quadrennial International Congress. While discussing the overall state of Little League, the 26th Little League International Congress will celebrate the 75th Anniversary with special speakers, entertainers and a screening of the anniversary documentary.
Little League’s 75th Anniversary, June 6 – On the anniversary of the first Little League game in 1939, Little League and the greater Williamsport Community will come together to celebrate Little League’s accomplishments. The celebration will include an exclusive screening of the VIA Studios Global Documentary “Little League: The History.”
75th Anniversary Concert to Benefit The National Baseball Hall of Fame Anniversary Concert, Aug. 2 – Also celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2014, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will have its anniversary commemorated with a celebration concert featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra and numerous entertainers. Little League will be actively recognized during the festivities.
ESPN Vignette Series – Produced by ESPN, these short-form retrospectives will feature some of the most significant moments and important people in Little League history. The vignette series is scheduled to air in the summer of 2014.
68th Little League Baseball® World Series, Aug. 14-24 – Little League’s 75th Anniversary celebrations will conclude on the biggest stage in youth sports, the Little League Baseball World Series. Special guests and Little League alums will gather in the birthplace of Little League to recognize 75 years of developing major league people.
Updates and more detailed information on all of these activities can be found on LittleLeagueBigLegacy.com.
“Little League has been providing positive experiences on the field, and off, for over seven decades,” said Gilmour. “We are looking forward to recognizing 75 years of success and embarking on our mission to continue to provide children around the world the opportunity to learn and grow through the sports of baseball and softball.”