Little League® Baseball and Softball is the first organized youth sports program in the world, and was founded in 1939 by Carl E. Stotz, a resident of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. During the spring of 1939, a total of 30 players formed three teams, and Mr. Stotz along with a collection of volunteers from his neighborhood, embarked on the first season of Little League Baseball®. Today, millions of children — ages 4 to 16 — on six continents and scores of countries can attest that baseball, softball and Little League are synonymous.
Mr. Stotz was an avid fan of professional baseball, and along with his admiration for the skill and character of the players of the era, he recognized the intrinsic life lessons that can be gleaned from a sport that relies on individual accomplishment as a primary component of achieving team success. Baseball and softball embody the discipline of teamwork. They challenge players toward perfection of physical skills and bring into play the excitement of tactics and strategy. The very nature of the sports teach that while every player eventually strikes out or is on the losing team, there is always another chance for success in the next at-bat or game.
History of Little League®
Little League® began in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1938, when Carl Stotz, an oil clerk, agreed to a game of catch with his nephews who were too young to play organized baseball. Acting on a promise to find a way for children to play baseball like the Major Leaguers of the day, Mr. Stotz created a three-team league that would play on a field that was two-thirds the size of a standard baseball diamond. After being turned down by 56 local businesses, Mr. Stotz convinced a lumber company, a dairy, and a pretzel maker to sponsor the teams for $30 each. On June 6, 1939, the first Little League game was played in Williamsport. For more than 75 years, Little League expanded around the globe and now offers opportunities to over 2.4 million boys and girls of all abilities in more than 80 countries worldwide. 1939:
The first Little League game is played in Williamsport, PA. 1947:
The first Little League Baseball ® World Series is played. Maynard Little League from Williamsport, Pa., wins the championship. 1947:
Allen “Sonny” Yearick, who played for Lycoming Dairy in 1939, becomes the first Little League graduate to play professional baseball. 1950:
The first leagues outside the United States are formed at each end of the Panama Canal. 1957:
Monterrey, Mexico becomes the first league outside of the U.S. to win the Little League Baseball World Series Championship 1961:
Senior League Baseball is introduced for players ages 13-15. 1974:
The Little League Softball ® program is introduced and Little League Baseball® rules are revised to include participation by girls. 1989:
The Little League Challenger Division® is introduced, providing opportunities for boys and girls with physical and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Little League participation. 1992:
Lights are installed at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and the first night game is played at the Little League Baseball World Series. 2001:
The Little League Baseball World Series expands from eight to sixteen teams. 2013:
The Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division is introduced. Today:
Little League is the world’s largest and most respected youth sports organization with more than 2.4 million participants playing in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries around the world.