This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Little League World Series and its first ever expansion of both the baseball and softball leagues. For people new to the world of baseball and softball, the Little League World Series is an annual tournament for children aged 10-12 years old. Although the league doesn’t actually have rules that deny girls from playing, the series is mostly comprised of boys, but has a history of including girls on some of the teams. A total of 20 girls have played in the Little League Baseball World Series including most recently Ella Bruning, who played in the 2021 league as a starting catcher for the Southwest Region Runner-up. The Little League program was founded in 1939 in Williamsport and the very first Little League Baseball World Series was played in 1947. However, the Little League Softball World Serieswasn’t established until 1974. Today, both leagues consist of about 2 millions boys and girls in all of the U.S and more than 80 other countries. Little League Softball has been growing in popularity with more than 50,000 girls participating across 460 leagues. The Little League has also seen a growing number of fans as last year’s championship game drew over 400,000 TV viewers.
This year, the 75th Little League Baseball World Series will take place August 17-28 in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania and will include 20 teams: 10 American teams coming from the Midwest, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, New England, Great Lakes, Metro, West, and Mid-Atlantic regions, and 10 international teams coming from Chinese Taipei, Japan, Australia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Australia, Canada, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Italy. Two iconic stadiums are playing host to the Little League Baseball World Series - Lamade Stadium (with 45,000 seats including terraced hills beyond the outfield fence) and Volunteer Stadium.
The 48th Little League Softball World Series is taking place in Greenville, North Carolina from August 9-15. This year, the league also expanded to include 12 teams (2 additional) with 8 American teams from the Central, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Southwest, New England, Southeast, West, and North Carolina (host) regions as well as 4 international teams from Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.The Little League Softball World Series kicked off on August 9th with its opening ceremony, and is being broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, and Longhorn Network, as well as their live streaming platforms ESPN+ and fuboTV.
Tournament Sponsors and Activations
Ahead of the Little League World Series, the league announced that there will be a Fan Zone and an event app “which will provide unique experiences and opportunities to fans from all over the world”, as well as enhancing the live experience in Greenville and Williamsport. For both the Softball and Baseball League tournaments, visitors and fans can use their Fan Pass QR Code on the app to interact with each league’s partners on site for a chance to win a $50 Little League Store Gift card. As one of the league’s official partners, Barilla’s activation throughout the event includes a sample hand out of their Barilla Protein+ Pasta with their marinara sauce to visitors in the Little League World Series Fan Zone. Fans and visitors will also experience a photo opportunity at the booth to redeem a collector’s pin. Sponsors like Adidas and DICK’s Sporting Goods made a special effort to elevate the player experience for the Little League Softball World Series, inviting players to activities like Adidas’ hair-braiding station to design and incorporate your unique teams’ color and a DICK’s Sporting Goods photobooth. Additionally, the league held an autograph session with college softball star, Jaiden Fields, for players to enjoy.
The Softball and Baseball Little League World Series have both come a long way and grown dramatically in popularity in the United States and all over the world. With the league expanding the number of teams on both sides, the tournament is expected to keep growing even more in the next coming years, attracting more sponsors, partners, and countries to take part. The league is also making an effort to popularize the softball league, but it still has a long way to go. There is always a place for improvement in both leagues especially when it comes to expanding its international teams. As we’ve now seen some expansion with both leagues, we anticipate more international teams to get involved in the series in future years, making this a more global event that can be celebrated worldwide.