Little League Baseball
Little League Baseball is the primary umbrella organization for youth baseball. Although it was founded in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, LLB has leagues on six continents. because of this geographic expansion, an entity called "Little League International" now organized the annual Little League World Series.
Little League Baseball was founded by Carl Stotz in 1939. Stotz secured sponsorships for uniforms and founded the league. The first league had 45 participants in just one league. Using the Stotz model, LLB blossomed after the War. By 1953, an annual national championship was held in Williamsport and over 100,000 children participated in Little League. Girls were originally excluded from playing, but won that right through a series of court challenges in 1973 and 1974. Little League Baseball was forced to change its statutes in light of the rulings that found it was guilty of discrimination in preventing girls from even trying out for teams.
In 1958, the first foreign teams were invited to Williamsport for the "Little League World Series." Exponential growth continued as one million children played Little League in 1964. As of 2005, there were 2,635,215 players in 7,408 leagues.
Little League Baseball is broken into seven divisions; Tee Ball, Minors, Majors, Junior, Senior, Big, and Challenger. Players may start in tee ball at age five and play in the "Big Leagues" until age 18. These leagues may also be renamed by the sponsoring organization. Generally, after age 12, players will begin to play on traveling teams that are more competitive than in-house teams.
The Challenger Division is a more recent creation. Played on special fields equipped to handle wheelchairs, Challenger players have mental or physical disabilities. These games are often played without keeping score. Challenger players often play with players from other divisions serving as buddies in order to direct them or to push their wheelchair.
Players in the Majors division, sometimes called "Little", are eligible for the Little League World Series, which is televised worldwide. There are also World Series for the Junior, Senior, and Big divisions.
- Charlie Bevis: "Four Girls in Spring 1974: The First Foot-Soldiers of Female Inclusion in Little League Baseball", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 51, Number 1 (Spring 2022), pp. 53-61.
- Thomas Boswell: "Growing Up With the Game", in How Life Imitates the World Series, Penguin Books, New York, Ny, 1982, pop. 129-133.
- Ron Briley: "The Great American Pastime (1956): Hollywood, Little League, and the Post-World War II Consensus", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 45, Number 2 (Fall 2016), pp. 57-65.
- Chris Lamb: Stolen Dreams: The 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars and Little League Baseball's Civil War, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2022. ISBN 978-1-4962-1945-9