LLB Series: A stage that all of America can be proud of

It’s safe to say the multifaceted Little League World Series that unfolds starting tonight is a spectacle unlike any other in America.

And yet it embodies so much of the spirit that is emblematic of our country.

It starts with a community opening its arms to the world, as in the kickoff parade through the heart of Williamsport that will include baseball greats, the 16 Little League teams competing in the Series and a wide variety of entertainment. It’s a spectacle cities twice the size of ours would be proud to sponsor.

It continues the purest of athletic competitions, teams of 11- and 12-year-olds from around the globe battling for a championship – and swimming together in the International Grove pool a few hours after battling on the baseball diamond.

Fifty years from now, every one of the players competing in this championship will remember, first and foremost, the experience of making the Series, regardless of their wins and losses on the Howard J. Lamade or Volunteer Stadium turf.

The 12-day odyssey will include the Major League Baseball Little League Classic, bringing the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets to the Little League Complex Sunday, hours before they play a regular season game at Bowman Field. Some of those players performed in the Little League World Series and some spent minor league baseball time at Bowman Field, so the Classic is bringing players back to their roots. We are certain the trip to Williamsport is as special to them as it is to the Little Leaguers and their families.

The subplot beneath the signature games will include lifelong friendships forged by kids from opposite sides of the globe, timeless celebrity moments few of the players could have imagined two months ago, thousands of Little League pin exchanges, family moments that last a lifetime, and on-field achievements that will become part of the historic fabric of this timeless event.

There have been the inevitable bows to commercialism and marketing as the event has grown in recent decades. But the end product is still kids performing on a postcard-worthy stage with a near-perfect blend of drama, sportsmanship and competition in the forefront.

It’s bigger than Carl Stotz probably imagined when he came up with the concept, but what happens here the next 12 days is still the best America has to offer.