Little League World Series 2011: Top 5 Traditions of the World Series
The Little League World Series has grown into a legitimate international sporting event because of its great traditions.
Those traditions range from the creation of the Little League itself to the fun-spirited mascots who dance with the umpires (who work for free).
This time of the year is for getting reacquainted with the great traditions of Little League Baseball, and here are the top five in my book...
There has never been a Little League World Series played outside of the small Appalachian town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of Little League Baseball.
Just this past weeked, the passion that the town has for the game was on full display, as they did everything they could to push their hometown team to victory over Kentucky. They lost 1-0; it was a Little League game to remember.
Williamsport is home to just 29,000 people when the Series isn't there, which makes it a perfect location for the next generation of ball players to make their first appearance on a national stage.
Baseball is just that kind of sport. Small town. Simple. The pulse of small rural towns across this country. Williamsport is without question the Little League's version of Cooperstown.
In 1947, the first Little League World Series was played between two American teams. That was the way it was back then, with little to no interest or possibility of including international teams.
But a little more than ten years later, in the 1960s, the Little League was ahead of the globalization game and began including international teams from Canada, Mexico, and Panama.
Soon, many of the usual suspects--Japan, Chinese Taipai and others--were not only invited to compete but were teaching the Americans a lesson about the game of baseball.
In fact, from 1967 to 1974, only one American team was able to topple the powerful clubs from Japan and Chinese Taipei. International teams were not invited to come back in 1975 because of this, but that rule was rightfully lifted after one year.
It's been that way ever since, and it's a truly a joy to watch the youth from around the globe play the game in their own way.
My favorite tradition of the Little League World Series is the sportsmanship the 11, 12, and 13 year old boys conduct themselves on the baseball diamond.
They hustle off after they strike out. They run on and off the field between innings. They shake the other team's hands after a win or loss. They pick each other up when the agony of defeat has set in.
What happens from the Little League to the Major League? Let's try to change that!
The most moving moment I've seen at the Series was how the 2007 Georgia team, who won on a walk-off homer, consoled the Japanese squad.
If not for the Little League World Series, it's likely that instant replay would still not be a part of the Major League game.
It was the the Little League who first incorporated the usage of home run, force outs, tags, and other types of review into their reviewing abilities in 2008, allowing the big leagues to get an idea of what it would look like.
Some people might call this being a guinea pig, but that's a misnomer if the new idea was the right one. Replay was right, and the tradition of willingness to try new things at the Little League World Series is a great one.
Umpires at the Little League World Series have to work their way through the local ranks, volunteering their time, energy, and patience for years.
They do it because love and respect the game, enjoy working with tomorrow's big leaguers, and teaching something about discipline and dedication to eager ears. Also, they love getting involved with the light-hearted side of baseball, as seen in the picture to the left.
They're allowed but one Series as an umpire to allow for more volunteers to get a chance to be a part of this great tradition we call Little League Baseball.
The spirit extends beyond the field, too, as Little League has estimated upwards of 35 million volunteers associated with the sport since its inception.