Moments the Series brings validate the commercial windfall

The Little League World Series wraps up today and, with the final pitch this afternoon, the high drama of the past 12 days will leave our region.

An annual economic development windfall also will leave the area for another year.

Hotels, motels, restaurants, stores, tourist attractions and a host of related businesses all benefitted in their cash registers from the thousands of visitors. They ranged from those who make an annual pilgrimmage to the event to those who came from around the globe with the team they were supporting.

The Series gets lauded by everyone who visits as a different kind of event because it weaves so many attractive pieces together – sports, pure competition, youth, a small city feel and some bigtime spice, all wrapped in sportsmanship and international goodwill.

That impossible-to-beat combination enriched the area commercially by nearly $32 million in the past 12 days, according to the most reliable estimates.

Given that level of dollar figures, it’s tempting to say the sport founded by Carl Stotz to give boys something to do in the summer has become more a commercial vehicle than an international competition for kids.

But no one who watched the Little Leaguers interact with Major League Baseball players from the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies who came here last Sunday to play in the Major League Baseball Little League Classic would agree with that thinking.

In one corner there was Phillies pitcher Jake Arrietta comparing notes with a pitcher from Staten Island, N.Y. In another corner, Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins was chatting up a player representing the West Region team. Prior to the international game at Volunteer Stadium, several of the Phillies and Mets of Hispanic origins were interacting on the field with the kids from Panama.

And prior to the game at Bowman Field last Sunday night, the Major Leaguers, instead of warming up with the their teammates, warmed up with the Little League players.

Those are moments those kids and their families will never forget, and the same goes for the global friendships that were struck between the games at the Little League Complex.

So, yes, the Little League World Series is a commercial feeder of the area, but moments like those show that the avenue through which local cash registers benefit remains unique and just about impossible to top.