Little League® International is excited to welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals to the Little League Baseball® World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., on August 20, 2017. The Pirates and Cardinals will be part of the “MLB Little League Classic” that will take place at BB&T Park at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport later tonight. This special event will spotlight Little League International’s commitment to working with MLB to celebrate youth baseball and softball through its PLAY BALL Initiative.
“We continue to work closely with our friends at Major League Baseball to find new and exciting ways to engage more children around the world with our great game. We look forward to welcoming the Pirates and the Cardinals to Williamsport during the Little League Baseball World Series this summer,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We are extremely grateful to Commissioner Manfred, the Pirates and Cardinals, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, state Senator Gene Yaw, and the Williamsport Crosscutters for their support of this exciting, new initiative, and we look forward to a fun and memorable MLB Little League Classic.”
As part of the festivities surrounding the MLB Little League Classic, players from both the Pirates and the Cardinals will attend the Little League Baseball World Series in a first-of-its-kind show of support for youth baseball. Later tonight, the players and families of the 16 teams competing in the Little League Baseball World Series will then be in attendance at the MLB Little League Classic at Bowman Field, which will air on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and ESPN Radio at 7 p.m. (ET).
“Major League Baseball’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., in MLB’s official release. “The ‘MLB Little League Classic’ exemplifies our entire sport’s commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime. Our players will honor the great tradition of the Little League World Series and create lifelong memories for the Little Leaguers, their families and the city of Williamsport. I thank the Pirates and the Cardinals, Little League Baseball, Governor Wolf, the Crosscutters, the City of Williamsport, and ESPN for helping us organize an unforgettable weekend.”
At least two MLB players will be making return trips to Howard J. Lamade Stadium, as Cardinals Randall Grichuk (2003 & 2004, Lamar National Little League, Richmond, Texas) and Lance Lynn (1999, Brownsburg Little League, Brownsburg, Ind.) both competed in the Little League Baseball World Series during their Little League days. For the Pirates, it will be a return to Bowman Field for both Andrew McCutchen, who played for the Williamsport Crosscutters in 2005, and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle, who managed the Williamsport Bills in 1991.
“Every August, the eyes of the world turn to Williamsport and the Little League Baseball World Series,” said Davie Jane Gilmour, Ph.D., Little League International Board of Directors Chairman and Pennsylvania College of Technology President. “The MLB Little League Classic will be the latest milestone in Williamsport’s long, storied baseball history, and our community could not be prouder to bring even more excitement to the city during the World Series this year with this historic event.”
The MLB Little League Classic is the latest in a series of new initiatives of MLB that Little League International is supporting to grow the games of baseball and softball, on both the grassroots and developmental levels. Little League International is proud to support MLB’s PLAY BALL initiative, which is the sport’s collective effort to encourage young people and communities to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, events and casual forms of play. Little League also was a leader in arm safety, promoting pitch counts for youth baseball pitchers beginning in 2007, and was the first youth baseball program to achieve full compliance in MLB’s Pitch Smart program, encouraging arm safety for all baseball participants. And, Little League, ESPN, and MLB will continue its efforts to celebrate Little League in communities throughout the United States, profiling local Little League programs during ESPN’s Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown and Sunday Night Baseball throughout the summer.
The 71st Little League Baseball World Series kicked off in Williamsport, Pa., on Thursday, August 17 and will culminate with the World Series Championship Game on Sunday, August 27. Over the course of four weeks, local Little League teams will claim championship banners at seven Little League World Series tournaments in baseball and softball, with more than 130 games airing on the ESPN family of networks.