display | more...
The championship series of Little League baseball, held each August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. While Little League Baseball itself sponsors many age divisions with their own championships, the level officially dubbed "Little League" is age 11-12, and that is the age level of LLWS teams.

Although the formats and regional breakdowns have changed many times over the years, the common thread is two double-elimination brackets, one for U.S.-based teams and one for non-U.S. The champs of each bracket meet in the single-elimination final, televised nationwide in the U.S. by ABC.

The teams playing in this series are not the LL teams you'd find going down to your local municipal park on a spring evening, wearing the hats and names of randomly selected major league clubs. Those teams are drafted selections from the entire player pool, meant to (theoretically) ensure an even distribution of talent across the league*. After each league's regular season, an all-star team is selected; these teams first play in area tournaments for their metro area, from which they can advance to the state level, then regional. (Similar structures exist for non-U.S. teams.) The regional champs advance to Williamsport.

In 2001, 16 teams total advanced to the series, necessitating that each bracket be broken up into two pools, from which 2 semi-finalists each would advance. The brackets were as follows, with regional winners' cities listed:

Through the 1970s and 1980s, the tournament was dominated by teams from Taiwan (14 out of 21 champions 1971-1991 were Taiwanese). A particularly long string was broken in 1989 by a team from Trumbull, Connecticut who became U.S. national heroes; the winning pitcher in the final against the Taiwanese was Chris Drury, later to become an NHL Calder Trophy winner with the Colorado Avalanche (now playing with the Calgary Flames). Not long after this string, it was discovered that the Taiwanese leagues had been cheating in two different ways; first, their leagues had been drawing from pools of 16,000-20,000 children, as opposed to the regulation 4,000-7,000, and second, many of their players were playing on falsified birth certificates anyway -- the players were actually 14 and 15 years old. Since this was discovered, only two of nine champs have been from Taiwan, a more reasonable number.

Since 1997, most preliminary games in the U.S. bracket have been televised by ESPN or ESPN2.


Source: various documents from littleleague.com, personal experience


* A particular "league" can only claim players living in a geographic area usually defined by public school zones; for example, living in the Evergreen Elementary School area meant that I would have played in Huguenot Little League, but had I been in the Crenshaw Elementary School zone as my cousins were, I would have played in Chesterfield Little League.

Here are all the winners of the Little League World Series since 1947, listed with the teams they defeated and the score of the game.

1947: Williamsport, PA beat Lock Haven, PA (16-7)
1948: Lock Haven, PA beat St. Petersburg, FL (6-5)
1949: Hammonton, NJ beat Pensacola, FL (5-0)
1950: Houston, TX beat Bridgeport, CT (2-1)
1951: Stamford, CT beat Austin, TX (3-0)
1952: Norwalk, CT beat Monongahela, PA (4-3)
1953: Birmingham, AL beat Schenectady, NY (1-0)
1954: Schenectady, NY beat Colton, CA (7-5)
1955: Morrisville, PA beat Merchantville, NJ (4-3)
1956: Roswell, NM beat Delaware, NJ (3-1)
1957: Monterrey, Mexico beat La Mesa, CA (4-0)
1958: Monterrey, Mexico beat Kankakee, IL (10-1)
1959: Hamtramck, MI beat Auburn, CA (12-0)
1960: Levittown, PA beat Ft. Worth, TX (5-0)
1961: El Cajon, CA beat El Campo, TX (4-2)
1962: San Jose, CA beat Kankakee, IL (3-0)
1963: Granada Hills, CA beat Stratford, CT (2-1)
1964: Staten Island, NY beat Monterrey, Mexico (4-0)
1965: Windsor Locks, CT beat Ontario, Canada (3-1)
1966: Houston, TX beat West New York, NJ (8-2)
1967: Tokyo, Japan beat Chicago, IL (4-1)
1968: Osaka, Japan beat Richmond, VA (1-0)
1969: Taipei, Taiwan beat Santa Clara, CA (5-0)
1970: Wayne, NJ beat Campbell, CA (2-0)
1971: Tainan, Taiwan beat Gary, IN (12-3)
1972: Taipei, Taiwan beat Hammond, IN (6-0)
1973: Tainan City, Taiwan beat Tucson, AZ (12-0)
1974: Tainan City, Taiwan beat Red Bluff, CA (12-1)
1975: Lakewood, NJ beat Tampa, FL (4-3)
1976: Tokyo, Japan beat Campbell, CA (10-3)
1977: Li-Teh, Taiwan beat El Cajon, CA (7-2)
1978: Pin-Tung, Taiwan beat Danville, CA (11-1)
1979: Pu-Tzu Town, Taiwan beat Campbell, CA (2-1)
1980: Hua Lian, Taiwan beat Tampa, FL (4-3)
1981: Tai-Chung, Taiwan beat Tampa, FL (4-2)
1982: Kirkland, WA beat Pu-Tzu Town, Taiwan (6-0)
1983: Marietta, GA beat Liquito Hernandez, Dominican Republic (3-1)
1984: Seoul, South Korea beat Altamonte Springs, FL (6-2)
1985: Seoul, South Korea beat Mexicali, Mexico (7-1)
1986: Tainan Park, Taiwan beat Tucson, AZ (12-0)
1987: Hua Lian, Chinese Taipei beat Irvine, CA (21-1)
1988: Tai-Chung, Chinese Taipei beat Pearl City, HI (10-0)
1989: Trumbull, CT beat Koahsuing, Chinese Taipei (5-2)
1990: Tainan County, Chinese Taipei beat Shippensburg, PA (9-0)
1991: Tai-Chung, Chinese Taipei beat Danville, CA (11-0)
1992: Long Beach, CA beat Mindanao, Phillipines (6-0)
1993: Long Beach, CA beat David, Panama (3-2)
1994: Maracaibo, Venezuela beat Northridge, CA (4-3)
1995: Tainan, Taiwan beat Spring, TX (17-3)
1996: Kao-Hsung, Chinese Taipei beat Cranston, RI (13-3)
1997: Guadalupe, Mexico beat Mission Viejo, CA (5-4)
1998: Toms River, NJ beat Kashima, Japan (12-9)
1999: Osaka, Japan beat Phoenix City, AL (5-0)
2000: Maracaibo, Venezuela beat Bellaire, TX (3-2)
2001: Tokyo, Japan beat Apopka, Fl (2-1)

This information was partially taken from www.littleleague.org with the rest having been taken from the 1996 World Almanac and Book of Facts. Please /msg with any corrections, especially regarding the difference between Taiwan and Chinese Taipei, which I was unable to keep very straight at all.

When people complain about baseball, they usually mention the slow pace of a Major League game. These people have obiously not been watching the right games. I'm not talking about the big leagues. I'm not talking about hot pennant races like the current National League Central, nor heated rivalries like the Yankees and the Red Sox, or the Cards and Cubs. I'm talking about Little League.

That's right. The best baseball on television is the Little League World Series. Currently getting airplay on ESPN and ESPN2, this is not the little league that you grew up with. These kids are not only playing with as much ferocity and tenacity as a big leaguer, but they're also pulling the same type of plays. 12 year olds are pulling double plays of all sorts, hitting clutch home runs and throwing no-hitters.

After teams are selected, a regional tournament begins. Here, the local teams duke it out for the right to represent their corner of the nation. Northeast, Southeast, Mid-east, Northwest, etc. There are 8 of these teams in total, and they're split into 2 of the four possible pools. This pool play is nothing like good ole Marco Polo. The teams in each pool play against each other team in their pool. The teams with the best 2 records advance to a semi-final round for the Americas, and then onward until it's one American Team against a team from the World. Hey, atleast it's less Americentric than the World Series, or any other pompously named "World" championship.

But all that doesn't matter. It's little league afterall. These kids are playing because they want to get noticed, yes; but mostly because they want to win. They're playing hard, and being rewarded with fun, not multi-million dollar salaries that rival the GDP of small African nations. Not only that, but they're playing well.

I'm watching my second game of the evening as I write, and I'm continually amazed by the field presence some of these kids have. In the first game, I saw a double play atleast once during the inning, if not some stellar offense or defense that would be worthy of a Web Gem or two. I've seen catches made at the wall, balls snagged out of the air, dives, leaps and slides. Every element that goes into a great game. Sure, plenty of errors are made during the game, but this is Little League, it's half the fun.

I felt weird as I quaff a cold one, and watch these young kids play. All the players are from 11-12 years old, save those 13 year olds whose birthdays are after August 1. Some of these kids are small, still with the pudgy faces of a young children. However, there are others that are soundly on their way to becoming men. The pitcher for the Saugus, MA team was 6 foot, 1 inch tall and 185 pounds, but just turned 13. He was a definite advantage for the Saugus team and pitched on hell of a game.

I can't see how one can't watch these kids play ball for the sake of the game and not be delighted by what they see. These kids don't argue with the umpires, and none can complain about not-playing. One rule in play is that every player on the active roster has to have atleast one at-bat (if they walk, it still counts). The crowd is always hot, and rightfully so. It's mostly comprimised of parents, sliblings, and grandparents, all of them #1 fans for their child and their team. Hopefully they can remain civil and not tarnish this great game. After all, these kids fight back tears when they get beaned as hard as they fight in the batter's box. It would be a shame for something to overshadow the accomplishments made by these young players and their teams.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.