Little League World Series 2010: The 10 Best U.S. Teams Ever
Yep, it's time to get serious about your baseball again, folks. The 64th Little League World Series will start on August 20th.
The Little League World Series, the event that spawned such tournaments as the World Baseball Classic, has always been a trailblazing sport. This year, due to a history of tension between coaches, umps, and angry baseball moms, the LLWS has broadened their use of replay, allowing coaches, but not angry parents who think their son did catch the ball no matter what the umpire says because he's just an angry old man and their son is amazing so of course he caught it, to challenge umpire's calls during the game.
Another move I'm sure MLB will steal in a couple of years.
Well, with that in mind, let's look at a replay of our own and look back at the 10 best U.S. Little League World Series teams ever.
10. 2001 Bronx, NY
This team didn't win. They didn't even make it to the World Series title game. They finished third so they didn't finish with much. But what they did have was a ringer. Literally, Danny Almonte has a wedding ring, a wife, two kids, and a mortgage he's still under.
Almonte was a national story in the 2001 LLWS. He was already projected as the New York Yankees' next big contract and for that, the 2001 Bronx, NY squad are the 10th best US team.
9. 1985 Calexico, California
The Southern Cal region representative, Calexico, California. actually lost in the World Series title game 7-1 to Seoul, South Korea. But this team makes this list because of the historical significance.
The Calexico, California team was actually not technically a US team. They were really from Mexicali, Mexico, but because of its proximity to the El Canto/ Calexico area, it was close enough to represent Southern California's District 22. So while they may not have won a trophy, this team started a long tradition of America taking advantage of foreign labor. That's good enough for No. 9.
8. 1992 Long Beach, California
Another bunch of losers. In 1992, Long Beach lost to Zamboanga City in the LLWS game, but unlike the previous losers on this list, Long Beach, California eventually got the title...by way of forfeit.
After winning the Far East series and the Filipino title, Zamboanga City beat Long Beach for the LLWS title, but upon returning home, they found themselves under attack by journalists who must have had kids on the losing teams, because why else would they investigate a little league team?
Well, they unearthed a plot by Zamboanga City that went far beyond the Zamboanga borders. They had used players from outside their city limits and players that were overage. Their title was stripped and their shame echoed throughout the land. Amazingly, they were disqualified from the Filipino title the very next year as well for trying to use more overage players.
Long Beach was awarded a 6-0 championship game win and the title of 1992 Little League World Series champions. So I guess it counts for eighth best.
7. 1947 Williamsport, PA
Williamsport, Pennsylvania beat Lock Haven, Pennsylvania 16-7 in the inaugural Little League World Series.
Of course, the game was played in Williamsport, PA so they did have home field advantage. And the Williamsport, PA team was called the Maynard Midgets so it's unclear if they were actually children or just short men but until anything is proven, and if there's anything to that I'll find it, the 1947 Williamsport, PA team is the first World Series champs. Worthy of No. 7 on this list.
6. 1975 Lakewood, NJ
In 197, the squad from Lakewood, New Jersey upset the Tampa, Florida team 4-3 to win the title. I'm not actually sure if Tampa was in fact the favorite, but I'm sure those kids were very upset that they lost. What puts Lakewood, NJ on this list is not whether they were the underdog, though. It's that they won and, more importantly, who didn't.
This US win ended Taiwan's streak of four consecutive titles, from 1971 through 1974. Of course, all international teams were banned from the 1975 LLWS so regardless an American team was going to end Taiwan's reign, but it was Lakewood who stepped up to the plate and won so it is No. 6.
5. 1989 Trumbull, CT
Trumbull, Connecticut won the 1989 Little League World Series with a 5-2 victory over Kaohsiung, Taiwan. They couldn't have done it, though, without 1989 LLWS MVP Chris Drury, center for the New York Rangers. This marked the first time in LLWS history where these kids were called upon to bring attention to the dying sport of American hockey. If nothing else, those kids learned a lot about sportsmanship. A big enough moment to earn fifth on the list.
4. 1959 Hamtramck, MI
Hamtramck, Michigan might not sound like a real place, but when they beat Auburn, California 12-0 for the 1959 LLWS, I still didn't think it was a real place. In fact, I couldn't find any proof of it's existence and I was forced to use a picture of Comerica to represent Michigan baseball. If anyone from Hamtramck is reading this, let us know you're out there.
Anyway, what made this win so monumental was that it was the first win by an American team since the tournament went international. So this was kind of a serious one at No. 4.
3. 1982 Kirkland, WA
In 1982, Kirkland, Washington faced off against Chiai, Taiwan in the LLWS championship. Taiwan was coming off five straight wins, working on their sixth, and America was stuck in their longest winless drought having gone six years without a win. Kirkland, nicknamed "The Little City That Could" (seriously) ended all that with a 6-0 win for the LLWS. I imagine it was very exciting and just thinking about it earns Kirkland the No. 3 spot.
2. 1964 Staten Island, NY
The Staten Island, NY team beat Monterrey, NL, Mexico 4-0 in 1964 for Staten Island's only LLWS championship.
Staten Island didn't have any NHL stars and didn't end any dynasties or American droughts. But that is my home team and this was their only championship so for that they make No. 2 on MY list. You don't like it, fuggetaboutit. Make your own list.
You can imagine there was plenty of fist-pumping on that mound after the game though.
1. 2009 Chula Vista, CA
Last year's LLWS was won by Chula Vista, California with a win over Taoyan County, Taiwan. What makes Chula Vista the No. 1 American team?
They did beat Taiwan in Taiwan's first appearance in the finals since 1996 when they refused to meet tournament requirements and didn't compete until 2003. Until 1996, of the 30 LLWS held, Taiwan appeared in 19 championships, winning 17 and losing two. So this was kind of a big deal.
But that's not why Chula Vista is No. 1. It's simple: Until someone takes the title from them, they're the best.