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Little League Earns Horizon Award for Amateur Sports Organization Of the Year

Accompanied by Little Leaguers from the Atlanta area, Steve Keener delivers his acceptance speech at the fifth annual Horizon Awards for Sports Business.

ATLANTA (Nov. 2, 2005) – Little League International received the award for “Amateur Sports Organization of the Year” at the fifth annual Horizon Awards for Sports Business tonight in Atlanta. The Horizon Awards, created by the Atlanta Sports Council, honors the thought-leaders and innovators in the sports business industry.

The “Amateur Sports Organization of the Year” award recognizes the amateur sports organization that had significant or unique success in branding, marketing, financing and participation growth. Stephen D. Keener of Williamsport, Pa., president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, accepted the award.

“The companies and individuals honored here tonight set the bar for what can be accomplished in their respective industry segments,” said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Sports Council president. “It is our privilege to both recognize their achievement and celebrate its collective impact on the industry.”

Nominees and winners were selected for 11 categories by the Horizon Awards Voting Academy, a national body representing every sector of the sports business industry. The voting process was certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti and Wayne LLP, official business advisors to the Horizon Awards.

Little League International is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those who will participate in Little League Baseball and Softball.

After more than 50 years of publishing a printed newsletter, Little League International recently converted the “Little Leaguer” newsletter to an all-electronic format. At its peak, the printed newsletter reached 13,000 people four times a year. By 2004, the e-newsletter reached 400,000 people a month.

In 2005, Little League reached new heights with its television contract. In the fifth year of a six-year deal, more than 40 games in the Little League Baseball and Softball International Tournament were televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN2. The U.S. and World Championship games of the Little League Baseball World Series were televised on ABC.

Following the ceremony, Mr. Keener posed for a photo backstage with the Little Leaguers.

Little League also has seen growth in its Urban Initiative, now in more than 70 communities in the U.S., with an annual Urban Initiative Jamboree at the international headquarters. Little League’s Challenger Division for mentally and physically disabled children boasts more than 26,000 players, recently buoyed by a $2 million endowment from Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation.

Also in 2005, Little League introduced “Ask Little League,” an interactive on-line session in which guests and friends of Little League answer questions from players, volunteers and fans. The first guest was Yankees pitcher, Mike Mussina, who played Little League in Montoursville, Pa., and is now a member of the Little League International Board of Directors.

Another recent change cited: For the first time in more than 55 years, Little League changed the league age determination date for players, effective in 2006. The old date of July 31 for both baseball and softball became April 30 for baseball, and Dec. 31 (of the previous year) for softball.

"On behalf of Little League International, I am pleased that Little League has received this recognition, and wish to thank the 2005 Horizon Awards Voting Academy members and the Horizon Awards Executive Committee,” Mr. Keener said. “We are privileged to be considered for this award among such distinguished nominees, and honored that Little League was selected. I can promise that Little League will continue to strive to maintain its leadership position in the youth sports world."

About the Horizon Awards:
Created in 1999 by the Atlanta Sports Council, the Horizon Awards for Sports Business is the only event that brings together more than 600 executives from around the country to celebrate excellence in the sports business industry. Companies and individuals recognized are thought-leaders and innovators of marketing, advertising, promotions, media and technology in the sports business industry.

About the Atlanta Sports Council:
The Atlanta Sports Council, 2000 and 2004 Sports Commission of the Year, promotes the value of sports growth in Atlanta and Georgia by acting as an authority on the economic impact, visibility and quality of life issues associated with sports. Its mission is to lead, organize and support sports development with the goal of building Atlanta's reputation as the Sports Capital of the World.