How Does a Little League Team Make it to the Little League World Series?
Many children play organized baseball every year. They get uniforms, have coaches and managers and they keep score. Results may be published in local newspapers or on online. Many parents believe their sons or daughters are playing Little League Baseball. Little League is actually a specific brand of youth baseball. The use of the term Little League is similar to use of the brand name Kleenex when somebody uses a tissue. You may say that you need a "Kleenex" when you feel a sneeze coming on in much the same way that you might tell a co-worker that your son got two hits in the "Little League" game. Unless your child is playing in a game sanctioned by Little League Baseball, your son is in a different organized league. The teams that play in the Little League World Series every year are in leagues sponsored by Little League Baseball. Other leagues may have teams that are as good or better than Little League Baseball, but they are not eligible to play in the tournament.
The Path to the Little League World Series
Each community with a Little League Baseball program conducts a championship. As the season comes to a conclusion, the managers and coaches in the league select an All-Star team from the best players. Those players come together and form a team that can play in a district tournament. A district will consist of 10 to 20 leagues in a given geographic area. The district conducts a tournament and the winner of that tournament will go on to play in a regional tournament. Those regions are determined by geography. There are five regions in the United States: East, Central, South, Southwest and West. Each of those five winners goes on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. There the regional winners compete and the U.S. champion competes with the international champion to determine the Little League World Series Champion.
How Little League Started and Grew
Little League Baseball was the idea of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, resident Carl Stortz in 1939. Stortz came up with rules and found sponsors, and other Pennsylvania communities followed his model. By 1946, there were 12 Little League Baseball programs in Pennsylvania. The following year, the league expanded outside of Pennsylvania and the first Little League World Series was held. It was won by a team from Williamsport. The league expanded outside of the country in 1951. It was first televised nationally in 1953 by CBS. Monterrey, Mexico, became the first non-U.S. team to win the championship in 1957. Little League celebrated its 50th World Series in 1996 and it was marked by Taiwan winning its 17th championship.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.