MLB Little League Classic
MLB Little League Classic logo.jpg
VenueBowman Field[a]
Location(s)Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Inaugurated2017
SponsorGEICO

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.[1] The series is part of MLB's effort to get more children interested in and involved with baseball at a younger age.[2]

History

Exterior view of Bowman Field
Exterior view of Bowman Field

Background

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.[3]

On March 9, 2017, MLB officially announced the first MLB Little League Classic, selecting the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals as the participants,[4][5] and released the following statement:[6]

"Major League Baseball's greatest responsibility is to ensure that today's youth become active participants in our game as players and fans. The 'MLB Little League Classic' exemplifies our entire sport's commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime. Our players will honor the great tradition of the Little League World Series and create lifelong memories for the Little Leaguers, their families and the city of Williamsport. I thank the Pirates and the Cardinals, Little League Baseball, Governor Wolf, the Crosscutters, the City of Williamsport, and ESPN for helping us organize an unforgettable weekend." — Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Baseball

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.[7]

Games

Josh Bell had four RBIs in the 2017 game.[8]
Josh Bell had four RBIs in the 2017 game.[8]

The Pirates defeated the Cardinals, 6–3, in the first Classic, played on August 20, 2017.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

In late September 2017, MLB announced that a second Classic would be held in 2018, between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.[13] On August 19, 2018, the Mets won the second Classic, 8–2.[14] 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.[15]

The third Classic was played on August 18, 2019,[16] with the Chicago Cubs defeating the Pirates, 7–1.[17] Chicago's uniforms for the game read "Cubbies" on the front, while Pittsburgh's read "The Burgh".[18]

The fourth edition was announced for August 23, 2020, between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles,[19] 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.[20]

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.[21][22] 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.[23] Joe Maddon, manager of the Angels, previously managed the Cubs in the 2019 edition of the game.[24]

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.[25]

Games

Bowman Field during the 2017 game
Bowman Field during the 2017 game
Season Date Winning team Losing team Attendance Ref.
2017 August 20 Pittsburgh Pirates 6 St. Louis Cardinals 3 2,596 [8]
2018 August 19 New York Mets 8 Philadelphia Phillies 2 2,429 [26]
2019 August 18 Chicago Cubs 7 Pittsburgh Pirates 1 2,503 [27]
2020 August 23 Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles canceled [20]
2021 August 22 Cleveland Indians 3 Los Angeles Angels 0 1,832 [28]
2022 August 21 Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles [29]

Broadcasting

Television

Buster Olney has been a reporter for the game since the 2018 edition.
Buster Olney has been a reporter for the game since the 2018 edition.

Since inception, the game has been broadcast by ESPN as part of their Sunday Night Baseball telecast.

Season Network Play-by-play Analysts Sideline Ref.
2017 ESPN Dan Shulman Aaron Boone & Jessica Mendoza Tim Kurkjian [30]
2018 ESPN Matt Vasgersian Alex Rodriguez & Jessica Mendoza Buster Olney [31]
2019 ESPN Matt Vasgersian Alex Rodriguez & Jessica Mendoza Buster Olney [32]
2021 ESPN Matt Vasgersian Alex Rodriguez Buster Olney [33]
2022 ESPN Karl Ravech David Cone & Eduardo Pérez Buster Olney [34]

Radio

Season Network Play-by-play Analyst Ref.
2017 ESPN Radio Adam Amin Chris Singleton [35]
2018 ESPN Radio Mike Couzens Jim Bowden [36]
2019 ESPN Radio Mike Couzens Chris Singleton [37]
2021 ESPN Radio Karl Ravech Tim Kurkjian [38]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b For sponsorship reasons, the formal name of Bowman Field was BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field from 2016 through 2020; in April 2021, it was changed to Muncy Bank Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field.

References

  1. ^ "ESPN to cover MLB Little League Classic August 20 in Williamsport".
  2. ^ "Pirates and Cardinals will attend the Little League games during the day and the little leaguers will attend the Major League game at night". WTAE-TV. March 9, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  3. ^ Goold, Derrick (March 7, 2017). "Williamsport Calling". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved August 20, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Cardinals and Pirates have been selected to participate in the first "MLB Little League Classic"". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 9, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  5. ^ "Major League Baseball has officially announced that the Pirates and Cardinals will take the field on August 20th in Williamsport". KDKA-TV. March 9, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  6. ^ "MLB ANNOUNCES LITTLE LEAGUE CLASSIC". Baseball America. March 9, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "Crosscutters Baseball Field Gets Upgrade Thanks to MLB". WNEP-TV. April 4, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Pittsburgh Pirates 6, St. Louis Cardinals 3". Retrosheet. August 20, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Cardinals vs. Pirates - Game Summary". ESPN. August 20, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  10. ^ Beauge, John (June 15, 2017). "Lycoming County residents can win free tickets to Aug. 20 Pirates-Cards game in Williamsport". pennlive.com.
  11. ^ Brink, Bill (March 9, 2017). "Pirates and Cardinals will play a game in Williamsport". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Lukas, Paul (August 9, 2017). "It's uniform change for MLB's Players Weekend". Uni Watch. ESPN.com. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  13. ^ Trezza, Joe (September 29, 2017). "Phils, Mets to play in MLB Little League Classic". MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "Mets vs. Phillies - Game Summary". ESPN. August 19, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "Williamsport Scores 4 In 1st to Whip Phillies". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. August 1, 1962. p. 32.
  16. ^ Randhawa, Manny (August 19, 2018). "Bucs, Cubs to match up in 2019 LL Classic". MLB.com. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  17. ^ "Quintana, Rizzo lead Cubs past Pirates 7-1 at LLWS". AP. August 18, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  18. ^ Soto, Aldo (August 9, 2019). "MLB Unveils Cubs Jerseys For Little League Classic And They're Actually Good". sportsmockery.com. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  19. ^ "Red Sox, O's to play in '20 Little League Classic". MLB.com (Press release). August 7, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Little League® Cancels 2020 World Series and Region Tournaments" (Press release). Little League Baseball. April 30, 2020. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  21. ^ Reichard, Kevin (August 23, 2020). "Williamsport Little League Classic announced for 2021 season". Ballpark Digest. August Publications.
  22. ^ Bell, Mandy (August 22, 2021). "Cal, Cleveland cruise vs. Halos at LL Classic". MLB.com. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Bell, Mandy (August 20, 2021). "Little League Classic FAQ: Angels vs. Indians". MLB.com. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "MLB Little League Classic to Welcome the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians to Williamsport in 2021". MLB.com. June 16, 2021. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  25. ^ "Red Sox, O's set for '22 Little League Classic". MLB.com. August 22, 2021. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  26. ^ "New York Mets 8, Philadelphia Phillies 2". Retrosheet. August 19, 2018. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  27. ^ "Cubs vs. Pirates - Box Score". ESPN. August 18, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  28. ^ "Cleveland Indians 3, Anaheim Angels 0". Retrosheet. August 22, 2021. Retrieved May 9, 2022.
  29. ^ @ChrisCotillo (August 22, 2021). "Red Sox will play the Orioles in the 2022 Little League Classic, MLB announces. Set for Aug. 21, 2022 in Williamsport, PA" (Tweet). Retrieved August 22, 2021 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "ESPN to broadcast MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport PA". ESPN Media Ventures, LLC. March 11, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  31. ^ Skarka, Michael (August 14, 2018). "ESPN Plans Full Day of Coverage Culminating with MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball August 19". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  32. ^ Bastian, Jordan; Berry, Adam (August 18, 2019). "Every Little League Classic question, answered". MLB.com. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  33. ^ Hughes, Katie (August 18, 2021). "ESPN to Provide Exclusive Coverage of the 2021 MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell Featuring the Los Angeles Angels vs. Cleveland Indians". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  34. ^ Hughes, Katie (March 17, 2022). "Play Ball! 2022 ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell Schedule Opens April 10 with Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  35. ^ Cafardo, Ben (August 16, 2017). "ESPN to Provide Comprehensive Coverage of MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  36. ^ Skarka, Michael (August 14, 2018). "ESPN Plans Full Day of Coverage Culminating with MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball August 19". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  37. ^ Hughes, Katie (August 15, 2019). "ESPN To Exclusively Televise Third Annual MLB Little League Classic Presented By GEICO on Sunday Night Baseball: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  38. ^ Hughes, Katie (August 18, 2021). "ESPN to Provide Exclusive Coverage of the 2021 MLB Little League Classic on Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell Featuring the Los Angeles Angels vs. Cleveland Indians". espnpressroom.com (Press release). Retrieved May 8, 2022.