The Little League Story

For the Best in Youth Sports it’s Little League Baseball

                The choice a family or a community has for youth sports is numerous.  Many communities have multiple options within the same sport.  So how does a family or community decide what is best?

                Among the considerations are cost, amount of travel, reputation of the organization, and the safety of the participants, to name a few.

                When the options for playing baseball are being considered, there is no better organization than Little League Baseball.  Since 1939, Little League has provided millions of the world’s youth the opportunity to participate in an activity that teaches them the ideals of sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork.  At the same time, the world’s largest and most respected youth sports organization has always considered cost and safety as important factors for continued growth.

                For many, the decision comes down to finding an economical and safe setting for their children to participate in what, in many cases, is their first experience in a group or team setting.

                Little League has worked very hard to keep the costs down for the local leagues, which, in turn, keeps the costs down for each of the players.  The annual charter fee is $16 per team, which many times is less than two percent of the local league’s budget.  When you add in the insurance, which ranges from $18 to $48 per team, the cost for the local league to charter and insure its participants and volunteers averages out to approximately $5 per player.

                The safety of everyone, both on and off the field, is always the top consideration of the community-based organization that serves more than 2.5 million children between the ages of 4 and 18, and its more than 1 million volunteers.  In every decision made, whether it is the adoption of a new rule or a change in a regulation, how it affects the safety of those involved is the first consideration.

                In addition, the Little League Child Protection Program has many different components to help each local league provide the safest setting possible.  Components of the program, introduced in 1998, include background checks on any local volunteer who provides regular service and/or repetitive access to players or teams, a publication with tips on recognizing abuse and sex offenders for parents and volunteers, regulations that call for the election of a safety officer in each local league, and the development of a safety program by each local league.

                Little League provides each local league with 125 free background checks through a partnership with LexisNexis.  Additional checks are available for only $1.  Each league is also encouraged to develop a safety plan as part of the “A Safety Awareness Program.”  This plan encompasses everything from what to do in case of an injury to what to do in the case of a natural disaster.  As part of this program, leagues have the ability to share their best ideas, making each program stronger.

        In addition to equipment and rules, there is another assurance of safety and quality that comes with Little League membership.  The Little League insignia and its related names are registered federal trademarks and cannot be used by any organization or for any purpose other than those approved by Little League International.  Under this trademark protection, communities that form a Little League program are guaranteed the quality of play and consistency of leadership that has become synonymous with the name Little League.

An organization is only as good as its people and that is why Little League provides information for league officials, coaches and umpires.  Each off-season, Little League personnel travel around the country conducting clinics and seminars to provide the latest information to volunteers.  Little League also provides a free Coaches and Umpire Resource Center on its web site ( which includes videos, articles and tips.  Little League also has an Umpire Registry which provides the latest news on rule changes and interpretations.

                Little League also offers a broad range of programs for children of all ages.  The four divisions of play in baseball; Little League (ages 4-12), Junior League (13-14), Senior League (14-16) and Big League (16-18).

A new Little League offering is the 50/70 Pilot Program.  That program allows the players to participate in a league with pitching and base-path distances in between the Little League and the regulation playing field distances.  There are two 50/70 programs offered - one for 12-13 year-olds and another for 11-12 year-olds.  Both utilize, for the most part, Junior League Baseball Rules and Regulations.

                In addition, the Challenger Division offers a program for physically and mentally challenged players in which they can enjoy all the benefits of the game of baseball.

                Little League also provides a democratic process in which all volunteers have a chance to voice their opinions about any aspect of the organization.  Through the Little League International Congress, local league volunteers have a chance to vote on changes to rules and regulations.  Nine members of the Little League International Board of Directors and all 12 members of the Advisory Board are volunteers from either the local or district level, giving the organization a strong voice from the grass-roots level.

                Of course, the most recognizable part of the organization is the annual Little League Baseball World Series.  Little League conducts a true “World” Series in each of its eight divisions in baseball in which more than 45,000 games are played to determine the champion.  Last year, 69 games of the International Tournament were televised live, including 60 games in the Little League Baseball division.  The Little League Baseball World Series has been televised every year since 1961 and each year has grown in popularity, becoming one of the late summer highlights on ESPN.

                The words “Little League” have symbolized the very best in youth sports for more than six decades.  With children in more than 85 countries and all 50 U.S. states playing baseball under the Little League umbrella, Little League Baseball continues to be the youth sports leader both internationally and in the United States.

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