For ESPN broadcaster, annual trek to Series is always special
Karl Ravech, of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, is one of five hosts covering today’s Little League World Series Championship game and according to Ravech, there isn’t just one element of the series that makes it a joy to work at.
For eleven years, Ravech has covered the Little League World Series with his fellow hosts and today’s championship game marks the fourth time that Ravech has called the finale of the 10-day event.
“It’s so unique and so different and appeals to so many different age levels and generations of fans,” Ravech said. “It’s one of those events that people tune into every summer looking forward to enjoying themselves watching something on television that isn’t necessarily do-or-die, politics, war or terrorism. It has to do with kids playing a game and enjoying it.”
Along with the Little League World Series, Ravech calls the College World Series and the Major League World Series for Baseball Tonight and Sports Center. To Ravech, what keeps the Series so exciting and makes it stand out is how stories develop amongst the teams during his time covering the games.
“We have a team from Lufkin, Texas, that hasn’t been here, you have a team from Greenville North Carolina, that has never been here, the team from South Dakota didn’t even have a World Series (team) until this year, so every year is so different and so unique,” Ravech said. “The stories develop organically.”
Ravech has been told on many occasions that the hosts at the Series look like they are having a good time but to him, the innocence of the kids and the joy of the game is too much not to have fun.
“I don’t know how you can’t have a good time when your staring out at players that are telling their coaches that they have to go to the bathroom before they warm up to pitch. That stuff is just beautifully human it’s wonderful.”
As far as the telecast is concerned, Ravech sees that he has three priorities as a host.
“One is to have fun and express how much joy these kids are playing with, then it is to chronicle the actual sporting event that’s going on, and thirdly it’s to inform people about the places these guys are coming from, the cities, what these countries are like,” he said.
The series this year had a lot of hopefuls, according to Ravech, who mentioned that a lot of teams had a chance to win.
“This year has been unique in its competitiveness. On the United States side, I do think that at one point it felt like four or five teams could win it,” Ravech said.
“I think on the international side you certainly thought South Korea had a chance to win it, you know Japan is going to have a chance to win it, Mexico had a chance to win it, there’s more balance this year,” Ravech said. “It makes for really exciting baseball games.”
Over the time Ravech has come to the Series, he has built a strong connection with South Williamsport and Williamsport.
“We come back here and we go to the same restaurants, see the same people, and it is absolutely a wonderfully comfortable feeling when you are gone for a year and you come back for ten days and it’s like you never left,” Ravech said.
The biggest stand out event of this year, and possibly the entire run of the Series, may have been the Major League Baseball Little League Classic, according to Ravech.
“Adding the Major League players this year arguably turned that day into the best day that Little League has ever had,” Ravech said.
If MLB continues to hold the classic, Ravech sees the event possibly even going on long enough for every team to have a chance to come and meet the kids.
“It should be an annual event, because I think Major League players, the few that got to Williamsport, understand how unique a place it is and how fabulous of a destination it is for baseball fans,” he said. “I think every Major Leaguer who watches Little League on television would love the opportunity to come and interact with these kids, see these fields, come to Williamsport and enjoy the people.”