Little League baseball has become, since Carl Stotz started his three-team league in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1939, an American right of passage. Every year, some 2,600,000 American kids slip into slightly-too-large uniforms and cheer for each other from behind chain-linked fences. Every year, tens of thousands of parents volunteer to coach teams of would-be Little League World Series contenders and find themselves spending countless hours teaching myopic whiffers to (maybe, just once) get the bat on the ball. That experience — the frustration of repetition, the unmitigated joy of a single dribbling up the third base line — has become a right of passage as well.
More American kids play basketball than baseball. More Americans play soccer than baseball. But those are not analogous experiences. Little League is unique because participation demands that kids try and fail and try again. And, not only that, that they do this with a crowd watching. With their teammates watching. With their parents watching. With the game on the line. The clock doesn’t run out in Little League. Kids can’t just wait. They have to learn to win.
To celebrate Little League as both an institution and a forum for bonding, Fatherly put together this guide about where Little League has been, where it’s going, and the coaches and players that continue to make it great. Go team!