The Little League World Series is one of baseball’s great traditions, letting children from all around the world come together to compete and celebrate the sport they love so much. And for the first time ever, the pros are getting in on the action. This Sunday, the Pirates and Cardinals will play in the inaugural MLB Little League Classic at the newly renovated Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The game marks the first in what will hopefully become a yearly tradition that merges professional baseball players with kids who dream of one day playing in the big leagues. Here are the seven reasons you don’t want to miss the MLB Little League Classic.
The second oldest ballpark in minor league baseball first opened in 1926. This year, Major League Baseball invested millions of dollars for renovation, bringing the historic field into the 21st century. Bowman Field seats less than 3,000 people, meaning any seat in the house will offer an intimate experience.
Considering Bowman Field’s history, it’s no surprise that more than a few baseball legends have played there including Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Bill Mazeroski, Jim Rice, and Jim Bunning. Bowman Field was also the site of several barnstorming tours, where the MLB stars of the day would play exhibition games for local crowds. Babe Ruth played several games there and his home run ball is still on display at the World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store.
Due to the low number of seats, most of the crowd will be comprised of teams currently participating in the Little League World Series. Getting to watch their heroes play up close will likely wow any kid and there is no doubt that 2,500 aspiring baseball players will make one of the best crowds of all time. Rally caps are pretty much a guarantee.
The Pirates and Cardinals are both struggling this year, but that all goes out the window anytime two division rivals play each other. Regardless of records or recent success, both teams will play as hard as they can to secure bragging rights until the next time they face off. Plus, this is the rare division game played at a neutral site, so winner essentially gets a second home stadium.
Little League Alumni
Little Leaguers are likely to lose their damn minds once they find out that several players from both teams got their baseball starts by playing little league. Cardinals players Randal Grichuk, Lance Lynn, and Kolten Wong even played in the Little League World Series.
The game, airing on ESPN at 7 p.m. EST, will be called live by Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone. Mendoza is a softball legend, playing professionally for several years and helping the U.S. win a gold medal in 2004. Boone has become one of the go-to voices in baseball commentary, but he’ll always be remembered for his mythical home run for the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS. Needless to say, these two are going to bring it.
The Love of the Game
Little League is baseball at its most innocent.When these pros are placed in this environment, it’s likely that many of them will hopefully be reminded of how they first fell in love with America’s pastime and showcase some unfettered joy. Any kid who’s obsessed with baseball will want to see the professionals in this environment, playing the game they love without any pretense.