|MLB Little League Classic|
The MLB Little League Classic is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) game held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, first played during the 2017 Little League World Series. The series is part of MLB's effort to get more children interested in and involved with baseball at a younger age.
After the success of the Fort Bragg Game between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in July 2016, reports spread that MLB was planning another similar event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is the venue for the annual Little League World Series and home to the Williamsport Crosscutters of Minor League Baseball. Many locals of the area and reporters across the nation thought it was almost impossible due to the size and capacity of Bowman Field,[a] as seating for fewer than 3,000 fans seems much less than ideal for an MLB game. As the reports were dispelled by many, the news faded. However, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch column in early March 2017 stated that MLB was finalizing plans for the game.
On March 9, 2017, MLB officially announced the first MLB Little League Classic, selecting the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals as the participants, and released the following statement:
Prior to the inaugural game, funding from MLB and grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania given to the City of Williamsport provided more than $4 million to improve Bowman Field. These included adding new seats, padding around the infield fence, new irrigation and draining to the field itself, moving the bullpens out beyond the outfield fence, new dugouts closer to home plate, and improved dining areas.
The Pirates defeated the Cardinals, 6–3, in the first Classic, played on August 20, 2017. Residents from Lycoming County were eligible to win a very limited number of tickets to the game via a lottery system found on the MLB website. The game was originally scheduled to be a home game for the Pirates; ticket holders for that game were offered a food-and-beverage credit, tickets to another game, or a refund. The Cardinals and Pirates wore special uniforms, including features such as pullover jerseys with bright colors and contrasting sleeves, specially colored caps, and a unique logo that drew design cues from the official logos of both MLB and Little League Baseball. In addition, players were encouraged (although not required) to put nicknames on the jerseys' rear nameplates. These uniforms were worn again by both teams on August 25–27 for Players Weekend, an initiative of MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association that saw all 30 MLB teams wear similar uniforms.
In late September 2017, MLB announced that a second Classic would be held in 2018, between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. On August 19, 2018, the Mets won the second Classic, 8–2. The Phillies had last played at Bowman Field on July 31, 1962, when the team lost to the Williamsport Grays, the Phillies' Eastern League affiliate, in a mid-season exhibition game.
The third Classic was played on August 18, 2019, with the Chicago Cubs defeating the Pirates, 7–1. Chicago's uniforms for the game read "Cubbies" on the front, while Pittsburgh's read "The Burgh".
The fourth edition was announced for August 23, 2020, between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, and was to be the first Classic with American League teams. That game was canceled on April 30, 2020, with the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The game of August 22, 2021, when the Cleveland Indians defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 3–0, became the first edition contested between American League teams and the fourth overall edition played. The teams were issued uniforms corresponding to the Little League regions they are based in: the Great Lakes Region for Cleveland and the West Region for Los Angeles. Joe Maddon, manager of the Angels, previously managed the Cubs in the 2019 edition of the game.
The fifth edition has been announced for August 21, 2022, featuring the Red Sox and Orioles (the same matchup as the canceled 2020 game), as a home game for Baltimore.
|Season||Date||Winning team||Losing team||Attendance||Ref.|
|2017||August 20||Pittsburgh Pirates||6||St. Louis Cardinals||3||2,596|||
|2018||August 19||New York Mets||8||Philadelphia Phillies||2||2,429|||
|2019||August 18||Chicago Cubs||7||Pittsburgh Pirates||1||2,503|||
|2020||August 23||Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles||canceled|||
|2021||August 22||Cleveland Indians||3||Los Angeles Angels||0||1,832|||
|2022||August 21||Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles|||
Since inception, the game has been broadcast by ESPN as part of their Sunday Night Baseball telecast.
|2017||ESPN||Dan Shulman||Aaron Boone & Jessica Mendoza||Tim Kurkjian|||
|2018||ESPN||Matt Vasgersian||Alex Rodriguez & Jessica Mendoza||Buster Olney|||
|2019||ESPN||Matt Vasgersian||Alex Rodriguez & Jessica Mendoza||Buster Olney|||
|2021||ESPN||Matt Vasgersian||Alex Rodriguez||Buster Olney|||
|2022||ESPN||Karl Ravech||David Cone & Eduardo Pérez||Buster Olney|||
|2017||ESPN Radio||Adam Amin||Chris Singleton|||
|2018||ESPN Radio||Mike Couzens||Jim Bowden|||
|2019||ESPN Radio||Mike Couzens||Chris Singleton|||
|2021||ESPN Radio||Karl Ravech||Tim Kurkjian|||