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New York City to Host First Little League International Opening Day Celebration

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (March 21, 2006) — Little League Baseball and Softball will honor its 2.7 million players and the volunteers who help them play with its first International Opening Day Celebration at Marcus Garvey Park in New York City on Friday, April 7, Little League President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen D. Keener announced today.

To launch its 68th season, International Opening Day events will include a Tee Ball game with current Little Leaguers at Marcus Garvey Park, 121st Street and Mount Morris Park West in Manhattan. Celebrity coaches will lead the teams, and the pre-game ceremony will include a musical tribute to the new season, and the Little League Pledge.

International Opening Day is also an opportunity to re-affirm Little League Baseball’s commitment to the storm-damaged areas of the United States Gulf Coast and to the Little League Urban Initiative. National sponsors of Little League Baseball and Softball participating in the event will be making equipment donations to assist leagues rebuilding in hurricane-damaged areas and provide their support to programs for at-risk youth run by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The Celebration at Marcus Garvey Park, home to Harlem Little League and the Bill Shea Friendship Field, will begin at 9 a.m.

“Little League is the largest organized youth sports program in the world and this Opening Day Celebration was created specifically to honor all Little League participants, and the volunteers who support them,” Mr. Keener said. “We will also use this opportunity to reconnect with our member leagues on the Gulf Coast who are striving to get back on the fields as soon as possible. Our sponsors’ generosity will remind everyone that those players will always be a part of Little League. Having the program at Marcus Garvey, home to the Harlem Little League, was important as we strengthen our Urban Initiative program.”

Collection boxes for new and “gently-used” equipment will be set up at the Marcus Garvey field. In addition contributions can be made on the Internet at www.pitchinforbaseball.org.

“As Harlem Little League celebrates its 18th season, we’re proud that the symbolic opening of the 2006 Little League season will be on our fields,” said Dwight Raiford, the co-founder of Harlem Little League along with his wife Iris, and a member of the Little League International Board of Directors. “We’re also grateful for our league’s sponsors, and for Little League’s national sponsors, who help keep costs to parents down. Without sponsors, our league and Little League itself could not hope to provide the same level of service to the community.”

International Opening Day will also pay tribute to the dedication and commitment of the more than one million volunteers who make each Little League season possible through all its divisions of baseball, softball, Challenger Division for disabled children, and the Little League Urban Initiative. Little League is played in all 50 states and more than 70 other countries around the world.

The sponsors supporting Little League International Opening Day are Ace Hardware, The Active Network, Bank of America, Bryant Heating and Cooling, Choice Hotels International, ESPN, American Honda, Major League Baseball, RE/MAX International, Russell Athletic, Snickers, Subway Restaurants, Sunkist Growers, Inc., and Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

Little League Baseball and Softball, based in Williamsport, Pa., since its founding in 1939, is the world’s largest organized youth sports program.