The Diamond Anniversary of Little League® celebrations concluded, fittingly, on the diamond at Howard J. Lamade Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 24, prior to the start of the 2014 Little League Baseball® World Series Championship Game.
Since January 2014, Little League has celebrated its 75th Anniversary around the world. The 7,000 local Little Leagues have marked the occasion, and there have been wonderful moments throughout the year honoring the Anniversary. The 2014 Little League Baseball World Series, though, served as the exclamation point on an exciting year.
During the 10-day tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., just miles from where the first Little League game was played on June 6, 1939, special occasions were held to mark the Anniversary.
At Opening Ceremonies, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield threw out the ceremonial first pitch, as Little League also paid homage to the 75th Anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Then, on Saturday, August 16, world-renown pop artist Charles Fazzino came to the World Series to unveil the Official Artwork of the 75th Anniversary. And, on Tuesday, Aug. 19, Bill Bair and Tuck Frazier, two of the original Little Leaguers, were on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Other special visitors to the World Series helped Little League celebrate its 75th Anniversary, including former MLB pitcher and Little League graduate Chan Ho-Park; Kathryn Massar Johnston, believed to be one of the first girls to play Little League; and 2014 Little League Softball® World Series Champions from Robbinsville (N.J.) Little League. Baseball Commissioner-Elect Rob Manfred, the first Little League graduate elected to the position visited South Williamsport during the World Series, as did representatives from USA Baseball, who presented Little League with a special 75th Anniversary jersey.
But perhaps the real celebration came on the field. Sixteen teams from around the world showed the sportsmanship and teamwork that are at the core of Little League’s longevity and success. There were also representatives from the major milestones of Little League’s history at the World Series. South Vancouver Little League represented the Canada Region, which, in 1951, Vancouver was one of two cities that became the first located outside of the United States with a Little League program. Emma March, from that South Vancouver Little League team, and Mo’ne Davis from Philadelphia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League team helped mark the 40th Anniversary of girls playing Little League and the founding of the Little League Softball program. On Saturday, Aug. 23, players from the Little League Challenger Division® helped celebrate the 25th Anniversary of that program during the Little League Baseball World Series Challenger Exhibition Game.
On Sunday, Aug. 24, before the Championship Game, some of the notable teams from the history of Little League were honored on the field, including the 1939 original Little Leaguers, the 1947 players in the first Little League Baseball World Series, the 1960 Berlin team that became the first league from Europe to play in the Little League Baseball World Series, the 1964 Staten Island team that is the only league from New York City to win a World Series title; and the 2004 Curacao team, including Jurickson Profar, who currently plays for the Texas Rangers. Karen Stotz Myers, daughter of Little League founder Carl E. Stotz, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Championship Game.
Seoul Little League went on to claim the ninth and final World Series Championship Banner awarded this year. And the 75th Anniversary celebrations came to a close in the same way Little League was started in 1939, with children playing baseball.