A Brief History of the Little League World Series

Rick Cundiff - May 24, 2019
A Brief History of the Little League World Series

Every Little League World Series game has a long, distinguished history behind it. Dating to 1947, the Series is the pinnacle of youth league baseball. In addition to being known for great baseball, the Series has also become renowned as a hotbed of baseball pin trading.

South Williamsport: Center of the Little League World

This year's LLWS will take place in South Williamsport, PA for the 59th time. Howard J. Lamade Stadium is Mecca for Little League players and fans from around the world. For 10 days, beginning in mid-August, thousands of players, coaches, fans and media will descend on the small borough, as they have done for decades.
The economic impact of the Little League World Series on the area is indisputably huge. A study estimated the 2011 LLWS brought more than $30 million into the region over a two-week period.

A True WORLD Series

With the Series comes a whirlwind of activities. Unlike Major League Baseball's “World” Series (which encompasses only North American teams), the LLWS truly is a worldwide affair. Teams from Asia, Australia and Europe compete with their U.S., Canadian and Mexican counterparts. A total of 16 teams from around the world come together to compete in a round-robin tournament that culminates in a game between one U.S. Division team and one International Division team.

The Beginning: Founding to the First World Series

From its humble beginnings, Little League has seen explosive growth and many “firsts.” Williamsport resident Carl Stotz created the first basic rules and field dimensions in 1938. The next year, he and other community members recruited players and formed Little League with three teams.
By the 1940s, Stotz and other leaders formalized the rules, created a logo and expanded Little League beyond its Pennsylvania origins. By 1947, the first Little League World Series game – then called the National Little League Tournament – took place, won by the Maynard Midgets.

International Expansion

The 1950s saw expansion outside the United States, with a Canadian team becoming the first non-U.S. team to play in the LLWS. A number of future major league players started their baseball careers in Little League. In 1960, the first team from Europe played in a Little League World Series game, a team from Berlin. Two years later, the first Asian team, from Tokyo, played in the LLWS. By 1967, a Tokyo team was the first Asian team to win the Series.

The 1970s: Girls Allowed

The next decade brought huge change as girls joined Little League for the first time, thanks to the federal Title IX ruling. It wasn't a change that came easily. In fact, it took two years and a court order before the League agreed to abide by Title IX.

The 1980s to Today: Trading Pins and Beyond

Baseball trading pins became an official part of the game in 1983, when the League introduced its first official pins. Today, pin trading draws nearly as much interest during the Little League World Series as the games themselves!

The 1990s and early 2000s brought still more changes to the Little League World Series, and to Little League itself. Today the LLWS is as popular as ever, drawing thousands to South Williamsport every August. Carl Stotz's vision for a youngsters' version of The Great American Pastime remains as vital today as it was in 1938.

Rick Cundiff

Rick Cundiff

Content Director, Blogger

Rick Cundiff spent 15 years as a newspaper journalist before joining TJM Promos. He has been researching and writing about custom trading pins and other promotional products for more than 10 years. He believes in the Oxford comma, eradicating the word "utilize," and Santa Claus.