Derek Jeter, Todd Frazier, Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley and other Little League® graduates weren't the only Little Leaguers on the diamond during the events at Major League Baseball All-Star Week in Minneapolis, Minn., from July 11-15.
This year, 2014, marks the 75th Anniversary of the first Little League season ever played. To celebrate this milestone, Little League was actively recognized during the 85th Midsummer Classic. To honor Little League’s Diamond Anniversary, a group of Little Leaguers® marched in the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show. Additionally, three Little League players were escorted by a Twins legend Rod Carew to the mound prior to the 2014 All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field to participate in the ceremonial first pitch. On Friday, July 11, special needs children from the Little League Challenger Division® played a one-inning game on the outfield of Target Field, with the help of volunteers from the Twins. Little League also had an interactive booth at FanFest where 75th Anniversary merchandise and artwork was available.
Little League was founded in Williamsport, Pa., by Carl Stotz, in 1939. In addition to celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the founding of Little League, This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of Little League Softball®, the 25th Anniversary of the Little League Challenger Division®, and the 15th Anniversary of the Little League Urban Initiative.
There are more than 35 million Little League® graduates around the world. They are community leaders, Baseball Hall of Famers, academics, public servants, scientists, and educators. Many of the All-Stars selected got their start in Little League including Frazier, who played in the 1998 Little League Baseball® World Series. At the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, Little League grads Kevin Love, Rollie Fingers, and Larry Fitzgerald all took the field.
During All-Star Week, Little League had a presence at FanFest. Among the activities was the opportunity to meet Charles Fazzino, the official artist of the 75th Anniversary of Little League and the MLB All-Star Game. On Friday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m., two Tee Ball teams from Coon Rapids National Little League played a game on the Diamond at FanFest.
On Friday, July 11, at 3:30 p.m. at Target Field, a Little League Challenger Division team from Hopkins Little League participated in a one-inning game on Target Field. This was the seventh year that the Challenger Division participated in an All-Star Week event. The Division provides an opportunity for children with physical and developmental challenges the opportunity to have a safe, exciting baseball and softball experience.
(Batting) Todd Frazier: 1998 World Series Champion from Toms River East (N.J.) Little League.
On Tuesday, July 15, the day of the All-Star Game, a team from Golden Valley Little League (Minn.) and a team from Otsego (Minn.) Little League walked in the annual Red Carpet Show, directly behind the Parade Grand Marshall. Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman and President of the Pennsylvania College of Technology, joined the Little Leaguers. Then, prior to the start of the All-Star Game, three local players, represented the 2.4 million Little Leaguers from around the world when they were escorted to the mound by Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew to take part in the First Pitch Ceremony.
In addition to MLB’s recognition of Little League’s 75th Anniversary during All-Star Week, Little League has celebrated its Diamond Anniversary with a series of initiatives. All MLB clubs in the U.S. have hosted Little Leaguers at their stadiums for Little League and Youth Baseball and Softball Days.
There are more than 1,250 Little League teams in Minnesota, with 20,000 boys and girls playing baseball and softball in the state. Minnesota Little League teams have advanced to the Little League Baseball World Series six times, most recently in 2010. Little League graduates from Minnesota include former Krissy Wendell (USA Women’s Hockey team captain, former Little League Baseball World Series competitor, and Little League Hall of Excellence enshrine), Larry Fitzgerald, and Joe Mauer.