President Bush Invites Maryland, West Virginia Little League Challenger Teams to Play Ball at White House
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (July 21, 2006) – A Little League Challenger
Division team from Shady Spring (W.Va.) Little League will square
off against a team from Thurmont, Md., in a “Tee Ball on the South
Lawn” game on July 30, it was announced today aboard Air Force One,
by White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino.
A player for the Civitan Club of Frederick Challengers
gets an assist from mom while signing the banner that
will hang on the team’s dugout during the Tee Ball on
the South Lawn game.
In keeping with the tradition of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games,
no score will be kept between the Braves of Shady Spring Little
League and the Thurmont Little League team. Every player on both
teams will play on defense and bat once in the one-inning game, to
be followed by a picnic on the South Lawn for players and families.
A baseball autographed by President George W. Bush will be presented
– by the president himself – to each player, manager, and coach.
Game time is 2:45 p.m.
Little League’s Challenger Division is for mentally and physically
disabled children, ages 5-18. It is Little League’s fastest-growing
division, with more than 28,000 players in the U.S. and several
The game is the 15th on the South Lawn of the White House since May
6, 2001, when President Bush began the initiative as a way to boost
interest in baseball among children and parents. Little League
Baseball and Softball, the largest youth sports program in the
world, has seen registration numbers increase so far this year by
more than 26,000 players. Final numbers for the year will not be
available until August.
President Bush, the first former Little Leaguer to be elected to the
nation’s highest office, played Little League Baseball at Central
Little League in Midland, Texas, in the mid-1950s. He was on the
Cubs, and was a catcher. In 2001, President Bush was enshrined in
the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence when he visited the
Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
The honorary commissioner for the game will be baseball great Willie
Mays, whose storied 22-year career in Major League Baseball ended
with 660 home runs – fourth in all of Major League history. He was
enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1979, and was a
young George W. Bush’s favorite player.
The honorary base coaches for the game will be former Major League
pitcher Al Leiter, and former Major League catcher Dan Wilson. Mr.
Leiter has worked with several charities throughout his career, and
Mr. Wilson (who played in the Little League Baseball World Series
for his Barrington, Ill., team in 1981) and his wife have four
adopted children, and work to raise funds to help orphaned children
find adoptive parents.
This will be the second game of 2006, and the sixth to feature teams
from the Challenger Division.
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest youth
sports organization, with nearly 2.7 million children participating
in every U.S. state and dozens of other countries on six continents.
Little League is the only youth sports organization to be chartered
by the U.S. Congress.