75th anniversary LLB Series produced multiple watersheds
The Little League World Series that concluded Sunday was destined to be a watershed series before it started, based on a number 75. This year’s series culminated the 75th anniversary of the sport’s founding by Williamsport’s Carl Stotz.
But this year’s Series and everything that surrounded it was so much more than a number.
There was history, to be sure, with players from the original teams that started it all returning.
And then there was the urban flavor like never before at the Series with teams from Chicago, Philadelphia and Las Vegas among the 16 making it to the Little League Complex in South Williamsport. We hope that marks a watershed to the future. It’s hardly a requirement that there be urban entrants into the Series, but greater participation in Little League in these areas can have positive social significance, partly among inner-city kids from these areas. If you want to know whether participation in youth sports helps kids overcome a tough environment and develop the correct living habits, witness this year’s Chicago team and the comments of their parents.
And then there was Mo’ne Davis, the electric girl pitcher for Philadelphia. There have been other girls participating in the Series and some have had integral roles on their teams, but none have been as transcendent as Davis.
Davis was transcendent for all the right reasons. While performing exceptionally on the diamond, she showed poise, smarts and talent, all the while combining that with a sense of sportsmanship, humility and a team-first attitude. A reluctant media darling, she did all she could to deflect the spotlight away from herself, which made her all the more endearing.
And then, finally, there was the competition, purer than most of what we get on television every night, with a quality of play that belies the 11- to 13-year-old age group.
In the past 12 days, all participants were honored with a festive parade. the city’s Little League founding and history were commemorated with a new gateway to the city the Market Square Bases Loaded project. A piece of pop art depicting the youth sports movement was unveiled. The fruits of Little League’s urban initiative came to full bloom. A girl took center stage. And stellar on-field competition was culminated with an exciting championship game won by Seoul, South Korea.
It indeed was a watershed Series, on so many levels.