This will be the first summer without little league baseball in Williamsport, Pennsylvania since the inception of the Little League World Series in 1947. Organizers officially canceled the 2020 Little League World Series (LLWS) due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Quarantine and lockdowns have been especially harsh on kids. But now they have to suffer through another bad beat with the cancellation of the annual summer celebration of youth baseball.
Due to travel restrictions, the logistical aspects of playing out the tournament would be impossible to overcome with international teams traveling to America to participate.
Little League International initially said the LLWS would host the tournament without fans. However, on Thursday, they called off the tournament along with regional tournaments, other divisional tournaments, and girls’ softball. The LLWS will resume in 2021 as scheduled.
“Let me tell the folks in all those communities and all the sites where we have regional qualifying tournaments how disappointed we are to have to do this, but it was inevitable,” said Little League President, Stephen Keener. “It would be irresponsible and impossible to bring teams and thousands of people from all over the world into the community of Williamsport as well as those six other communities that have been such great friends and supporters of ours over the years.”
Little League suspended the start of the season until May 11, as directed by the CDC. Once that date has passed, Little League will seek out advice from local governors on how to proceed. Several states have been relaxing stay-at-home restrictions, while other parts of the country are still in lockdown.
First-Ever LLWS Shutdown Since 1947
Williamsport hosted the first Little League World Series in 1947. Since then, the small town in central Pennsylvania has become the epicenter of youth baseball, with the tournament attracting press and interest from all over North America.
In 1975, organizers introduced an international bracket to make the LLWS a legitimate world series. American teams play on one side of the bracket while international teams compete against each other on the other side. The two bracket winners, with the US vs. the World, meet in the Little League World Series final. The event is televised live on ESPN and broadcast internationally. In the last few years, betting markets on the LLWS emerged, which once again proved that some fanatics will bet on anything.
Last season, a team from River Ridge, Louisiana shutout Curacao to win the 2019 championship. America won consecutive titles with Honolulu, Hawaii emerging victorious in 2018. The little Yanks won three out of the last four LLWS titles dating back to 2016 (Main-Endwell, New York).
Big Leaguers Game Also Shuttered
In addition to the LLWS, organizers also canceled the annual MLB game in Williamsport. The 2020 MLB Little League Classic, which featured the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, was scheduled for August 23 in Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport.
“While the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series is extremely disappointing, the health and safety of all of the people involved must be the paramount consideration. We look forward to our return to Williamsport for the 2021 MLB Little League Classic,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
Manfred postponed Spring Training and the start of the MLB season due to the coronavirus outbreak. The future of the MLB season continues to hang in limbo. Many different scenarios have been suggested, including playing the season in spring training locations in Florida and Arizona with the World Series determined by the winners of the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.
To get your little league fix, OG reviewed one of the funniest sports movies of all-time, “The Bad News Bears” (1976).