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Little League Baseball is the name of a non-profit organization in the United States which organizes local children's baseball and softball leagues throughout the US and the rest of the world. Founded by Carl Stotz in 1939 as a three-team league in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League Baseball encourages local volunteers to run its programs, which are open to children ages 5 to 18. The organization holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.[1]

The organization now has its headquarters in South Williamsport, directly across the Susquehanna River from the site of the original league, although it continues to have a Williamsport postal address. The Little League International Complex facility hosts the Little League World Series at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, and is also the site of the Little League Museum, which provides a history of Little League Baseball through interactive exhibits for children.

A provision of the official national Little League rules holds that “[a]t no time should payment of any fee be a prerequisite for participation in any level of the Little League program.” This stipulation stems from Stotz's personal experience of poverty in the Great Depression [2].


Carl Stotz, a resident of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, founded Little League Baseball in 1939. He began experimenting with his idea in the summer of 1938 when he gathered his nephews, Jimmy and Major Gehron and their neighborhood friends. They tried different field dimensions over the course of the summer and played several informal games. The following summer Stotz felt that he was ready to establish what became Little League Baseball. The first league in Williamsport had just three teams, each sponsored by a different business. The first teams, Jumbo Pretzel, Lycoming Dairy and Lundy Lumber were managed by Carl Stotz and two of his friends George and Bert Bebble. The men, joined by their wives and another couple, formed the first-ever Little League Board of Directors. Stotz's dream of establishing a baseball league for boys to teach fair play and teamwork had come true.[3]

The first Little League game took place on June 6, 1939. Lundy Lumber defeated Lycoming Dairy 23-8. Lycoming Dairy came back to claim the league championship. They, the first-half-season champions, defeated Lundy Lumber, the second-half champs, in a best-of-three season-ending series. The following year a second league was formed in Williamsport and from there Little League Baseball grew from three teams in a small Pennsylvania town to an international organization of nearly 200,000 teams in every U.S. state and over 80 countries all around the world.[3]

From its inception through 1974, Little League was for boys only. In 1974, Little League rules were revised to allow participation by girls.[4]

According to the Little League Baseball in 2007, there are more than 2.3 million players in Little League Baseball worldwide, including 400,000 girls registered in Girl's Softball. For tournament purposes, official Little League is divided into 16 geographic regions; 8 National and 8 international.


File:Little League Baseball Map.png

Map of Little League regions

The national regions are:

  • New England
  • Great Lakes
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • Midwest
  • Southeast
  • Southwest
  • Northwest (including Alaska)
  • West (including Hawaii)

The international regions are:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Latin America (Central America and South America)
  • Europe and Africa
  • Austrailia
  • Japan
  • Asia-Pacific (all other countries in Asia and the Pacific)

File:Little League World Series and Lamade Stadium.JPG

A Little League World Series game in Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport.


Early years[]

1939 - Little League is established by Carl Stotz. The first season is played in a lot near Bowman Field. Lycoming Dairy is the first season champion.[3]

1946 - Little League has expanded to 12 leagues all of which are in Pennsylvania.[3]

1947 - The first league outside of Pennsylvania is founded in Hammonton, New Jersey. Maynard League of Williamsport defeats a team from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to win the first Little League World Series. Allen Yearick is the first Little League graduate to play professional baseball when he is signed by the Boston Braves.[3]

1948 - Little League has grown to include 94 leagues. Lock Haven returns to the LLWS and defeats a league from St. Petersburg, Florida. The first corporate sponsor, U.S. Rubber, is announced,[3] who donate Pro-Keds shoes to teams at the LLWS.[5] amy wolfe was ere

1949 - Little League is featured in the Saturday Evening Post and on Newsreels. Carl Stotz gets hundreds of requests for information on how to form leagues at the local level from all over the United States. Little League incorporates in New York.[3]

1951 - A league is formed in British Columbia, Canada making it the first league outside the United States.[3]

1953 - The Little League World Series is televised for the first time. Jim McKay provides the play by play for CBS. Howard Cosell provides play by play for ABC Radio. Joey Jay of Middletown, Connecticut and the Milwaukee Braves is the first Little League graduate to play in the Major Leagues.[3]

1954 - Boog Powell, who later played for the Baltimore Orioles plays in the Little League World Series for Lakeland, Florida. Ken Hubbs, who later played for the Chicago Cubs, plays in the LLWS for Colton, California. Little League has expanded to more than 3,300 leagues.[3]

1955 - There is a Little League organization in each of the 48 U.S. States. George W. Bush begins playing Little League as a catcher for the Cubs of the Central Little League in Midland, Texas. He is the first Little League graduate to be elected President of the United States.[3]

1956 - Carl Stotz severs his ties with Little League Baseball in a dispute over the direction and control of Little League. Stotz remains active in youth baseball with the "Original League" in Williamsport.[3] Fred Shapiro throws a perfect game in the Little League World Series.

International era[]

File:RiceAmbMrsKellyLittleLeagueCut 600.jpg

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice poses with Little Leaguers from Chile in Santiago

1957 - Angel Marcias throws a perfect game and Monterrey, Mexico becomes the first team from outside the United States to win the Little League World Series.[3]

1959 - The Little League World Series moves from Williamsport to the newly built Little League Headquarters in South Williamsport. The protective baseball helmet is developed by Dr. Creighton Hale.[3]

1960 - A team from West Berlin, West Germany is the first team from Europe to play in the Little League World Series. The series is broadcast live for the first time on ABC. Little League has grown to 27,400 teams in more than 5,500 leagues.[3]

1961 - Brian Sipe, future quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, plays for the series champions from El Cajon, California.[3]

1962 - Jackie Robinson attends the Little League World Series. President John F. Kennedy proclaims National Little League Week.[3]

1963 - Central Little League, of Duluth, Minnesota wins the third place game, beating Turkey.

1967 - A team from West Tokyo, Japan is the first team from Asia to win the Little League World Series.[3]

1969 - Taiwan begins a dominant and controversial era that would see them win 17 Little League World Series titles.[3]

1971 - The aluminum baseball bat is first used. It was partly developed by Little League Baseball. Lloyd McClendon of Gary, Indiana dominates the Little League World Series, hitting five home runs in five at-bats. He later played in the Major Leagues and become the first Little League graduate to manage an MLB club with the Pittsburgh Pirates.[3]

1973 - Ed Vosberg plays in the Little League World Series for Tucson, Arizona. He later played in the College World Series for the University of Arizona in 1980 and the World Series in 1997 for the Florida Marlins. Vosberg is the first person to have played in all three world series.[3]

1975 - In a controversial decision, all foreign teams are banned from the Little League World Series. International play is restored the following year.[3]

1980 - A team from Tampa, Florida representing Belmont Heights Little League is led by two future major leaguers Derek Bell and Gary Sheffield. Bell returns the following year and Belmont Heights again loses in the finals to a team from Taiwan.[3]

1982 - The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum opens. Cody Webster leads a team from Kirkland, Washington in an upset victory of a powerful team from Taiwan. It was Taiwan's first loss in 31 games.[3]

1984 - Seoul, South Korea wins the first title for a South Korean team. They defeat a team from Altamonte Springs, Florida led by future Boston Red Sox catcher, Jason Varitek.[3]

1988 - Tom Seaver is the first former Little Leaguer to be enshrined in the Peter J. McGovern Museum Hall of Excellence.[3]

1989 - Poland becomes the first former Warsaw Pact nation to receive a Little League charter. Trumbull, Connecticut, led by future NHL star Chris Drury, wins the Little League World Series.[3]

1992 - Carl Stotz, the founder of Little League, dies. Lights are installed at Lamade Stadium allowing for the first night games to be played. The series is expanded from single elimination to round robin format.

1992 - Long Beach, California managed by former Major Leaguer Jeff Burroughs and led by his son future Major Leaguer Sean Burroughs is named series champion after Zamboanga City, Philippines is forced to forfeit for playing with ineligible players.[3]

1993 - Long Beach repeats as champions, defeating Coquivacoa Little League of Maracaibo, Venezuela. They are the first U.S. team to successfully defend their title.[3]

1997 - ESPN2 broadcasts regional play for the first time. Taiwan's baseball association withdraws from Little League Baseball. Bradenton, FL and Pottsville, PA play at Lamade Stadium before the largest crowd ever to attend a non-championship game. The crowd was estimated at over 35,000 fans.[3]

1999 - Burkina-Faso becomes the 100th nation with a Little League organization. Hirkata Little League of Osaka, Japan becomes the first Japanese team to win a title since 1976.[3]

2000 - An expansion project begins at Little League World Series Headquarters. Volunteer Stadium is built. This allows the [3]pool of participants to be doubled from 8 to 16 the following year.

2001 - The LLWS expands from 8 to 16 teams, with the following changes to regional lineups (post-2000 regions in bold):

  • US regions:
    • The East Region splits into the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions.
    • The Central Region splits into the Great Lakes and Midwest Regions.
    • The South Region splits into the Southeast and Southwest Regions.
    • The West Region spins off the Northwest Region.
  • International regions:
    • Canada remains intact as a region.
    • The Latin America Region spins off new regions for the Caribbean and Mexico.
    • The Far East Region splits into the Asia and Pacific Regions.
    • The Europe Region spins off the TransAtlantic Region.
      • These two regions were geographically identical, differing in the required composition of playing rosters. TransAtlantic teams were required to consist of a majority of players who were nationals of the USA, Canada, or Japan. Europe teams could have no more than three nationals of those countries.

In other news, Volunteer Stadium is opened. George W. Bush becomes the first U.S. President to visit the Little League World Series.[3] Led by phenom Danny Almonte, pitching the first perfect game since 1957, the Rolando Paulino All Stars (Bronx, NY) finish third in the series. The team's entire postseason, however, is wiped from the books when it is found that Almonte was 14 years old.

2004 – Effective with the 2004 LLWS, the Europe Region is renamed EMEA, for Europe, Middle East, Africa.

2007 - Little League expands into Australia for the first time. Effective with the 2007 LLWS, the Asia and Pacific regions are merged to form the Asia-Pacific Region, with Japan being split into its own region.

2008 - Effective with this year's LLWS, the TransAtlantic and EMEA regions are reorganized into the Europe and MEA regions. The previous nationality restrictions for players from these regions are abolished. Hawai'i wins the 2008 Little League World Series beating Mexico in the Final.

Little League World Series[]

File:Little League World Series Game 1 crop.jpg

Game 1 of the 2007 Little League World Series

The best-known event in the Little League calendar is the annual Little League Baseball World Series, which is held every August in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Tournaments leading up to the World Series are held throughout the USA, including the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico, and also across the rest of the world. In 2003 for example, there were tournaments in Canada, Europe (Germany and Poland), Latin America (Mexico, Panama, Curaçao, Aruba, Peru and Venezuela), and in Asia (Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan). The Little League Baseball World Series is just one of eight World Series every year. There are series for baseball and softball in Little, Junior, Senior and Big Leagues, each one held in a different location.


The official rules of Little League Baseball are copyrighted, but are available to the general public by online subscription or purchase.[6] Copies are provided to each team.[7] The playing rules for the baseball divisions essentially follow the Official Baseball Rules, especially with respect to the upper divisions (Junior, Senior, and Big League). Some major exceptions are outlined below; these apply to Little League (Minor and Major, ages 7-12) except as otherwise noted.

Length of Game[]

A regulation game is six innings. If the game is called prior to the completion of six innings, it is considered an official game if four innings have been completed (three and a half, if the home team leads); otherwise, if at least one inning has been completed, it is a suspended game.

In the Junior, Senior, and Big League levels (ages 13-18), a game is seven innings and is official if five innings have been completed.

Mandatory Play Rule[]

In all divisions except Senior and Big League, every player on the team roster must have at least one plate appearance and play six consecutive outs on defense in each game. The penalty for a manager violating the rule is a two-game suspension. This rule is waived if the game is completed prior to six innings.

Playing Field[]

The size of the field is dependent on the division of play [8].

Tee Ball

The distance between the bases is generally 45 feet.

Minor League and Little League

The distance between the bases is 60 feet and the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is 46 feet. Outfield fences must be at least 165 feet from home plate, but are usually 200 feet or more (the fields at the Williamsport complex have fences 225 feet away). The bases and pitching rubber are also slightly smaller than in standard baseball. Also, unlike fields at almost all levels of competitive baseball for teenagers and adults, the distance between home plate and the outfield fence is constant throughout fair territory.

Junior League, Senior League, and Big League

The distance between the bases is 90 feet, the same as for regulation Major League Baseball fields. The distance between the pitcher's mound to home plate is 60.6 feet. The minimum outfield distance in the upper divisions is 300 feet, while the maximum for Big League is 420 feet.


File:Little league baseball bunt.JPG

A Little Leaguer executing a bunt

Bats (all levels) may be made from material other than wood (such as aluminum or composite materials) and must be approved for use in Little League Baseball. The maximum bat length is thirty-three (33) inches and maximum barrel diameter may not exceed 2 1/4 inches. Beginning in 2009 all Little League bats must be labeled with a Bat Performance Factor (BPF) of 1.15 or lower.

Bats for the Junior League level may have a maximum length of thirty-four (34) inches and a maximum barrel diameter of 2 5/8 inches. Bats for the Big and Senior League levels may have a maximum length of thirty-six (36) inches and a maximum barrel diameter of 2 3/4 inches for wood bats and 2 5/8 inches for non-wood bats. Big and Senior League bats must meet the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) testing standards that are currently used in the NCAA and NFHS (high school).[9]

Base running[]

A base runner may not leave their occupied base from the time-of-pitch until the pitch reaches the batter.

If a fielder is waiting at the base with the ball, an advancing runner must attempt to avoid contact. A runner may not slide head-first except when retreating to a previously held base.

In the upper levels, runners must still make an attempt to avoid contact if possible, and may not maliciously initiate contact with a fielder.


The upper limit of the strike zone extends to the batter's armpits. A batter is out after the third strike regardless of whether the pitched ball is held by the catcher. The "Dropped third strike" rule does apply for the upper levels, Juniors and above.


Players who have been substituted for may return to the game under certain conditions, though a pitcher who has left the game may not return to pitch.


Pitchers in all divisions are limited to a specific pitch count per game and a mandatory rest period between outings. These vary with age and the rest period also depends on the number of pitches thrown.[10]

Local options[]

Local leagues have a certain amount of flexibility. For example, a league may opt to use the "continuous batting order" rule, under which each player on the team’s roster bats, even when not in the defensive lineup. Leagues may also adopt a "mercy rule" allowing the game to be called if one team is ahead by ten or more runs after five innings.[11][12]

See also[]



  • Van Auken, Lance and Robin. Play Ball: The Story of Little League Baseball, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-271-02118-7


  1. 36 U.S.C. §§ 130501-130513, Chapter 1305—Little League Baseball, Incorporated
  2. Op-ed piece by Joe Mathews in the August 16 2008 New York Times, quoting p. 39 of the 2008 rule book. Mathews notes that in fact most local leagues violate or bend this rule.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 History of Little League. Little League. Retrieved on 2007-06-26.
  4. Little League: History and Mission: Chronology
  5. Geist, Bill [1999]. Little League Confidential: One Coach's Completely Unauthorized Tale of Survival, 1st Edition, New York, NY: Dell. Retrieved on 2007-08-05.
  6. Little League: 2009 E-rules Resources
  7. Gub, Ted. "Who's on First? Who Wants to Know, and Why?", Washington Post, July 29, 2007, p. D1. Retrieved on 2008-07-03.
  8. Little League Rule Summary
  9. The BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio)
  10. Pitch Count Resource Page, Little League© Online
  11. Rules of Little League, Seattle Community Network (
  12. Little League Rules and Interpretations of Note, Western Maine Board of Baseball Umpires (

External links[]