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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2005 > Newark, Chicago Little League Teams Play Tee Ball Game on White House South Lawn

Newark, Chicago Little League Teams Play Tee Ball Game on White House South Lawn

President Bush addresses the crowd at the Tee Ball on the South Lawn game, with former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin. It was the 12th Tee Ball on the South Lawn game since 2001. Mr. Larkin is the Honorary Tee Ball Commissioner.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (June 26, 2005) – Teams from Newark, N.J., and Chicago squared off today in a Tee Ball on the South Lawn game at the White House, highlighting the Helping America’s Youth initiative, launched by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush earlier this year, and the Little League Urban Initiative.

In keeping with the tradition of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, no score was kept between the Jackie Robinson South Ward Little League Black Yankees of Newark, N.J., and the South Side Little League Memphis Red Sox of Chicago. The team names used by both leagues are in honor of those used in the Negro Leagues, which flourished in the early 20th century when black players were “unofficially” banned from playing in the Major Leagues.

Every player on both teams played on defense and bat once in the one-inning game, followed by a picnic on the South Lawn for players and families. A baseball autographed by President Bush was presented – by the President himself – to each player, manager, and coach.

The game was the 12th 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. 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.

This was the first game of 2005, the first of President Bush’s second term, and the first to include a Little League team from Illinois. One other New Jersey Little League team has participated in a Tee Ball on the South Lawn game. In May 2002, a team from 6-11 Little League of Trenton played against a team from Uniondale Little League of Long Island, N.Y.

The Chicago team, parents and guests traveled by bus to Williamsport, Pa., where they stayed in dorms on the Little League International Complex for two nights, and will travel back to Chicago by bus on Monday. Little League International provided lodging and meals at no charge to the team or league. The Newark team made the round trip from Newark to Washington today. Each league/team had about 100 people at the game.

Little League International reimburses the U.S. Government for most of the costs associated with the game. Once again, several Little League sponsors have stepped up to defray those costs. Little League’s sponsors helping to support the 2005 Tee Ball on the South Lawn games are: Ace Hardware, AIG Companies, Masterfoods, Inc. (Snickers Brand), Musco Sports Lighting, and New Era Cap Company.

“We are grateful to these sponsors, our friends, for stepping forward to help with this important program,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Without their assistance, Little League would not be able to provide these wonderful events.”

Some of the costs associated with the Tee Ball on the South Lawn games include food for a post-game picnic, rental of bleachers, banners, fencing, and personnel costs. Part of the cost for the Chicago team’s bus transportation was paid by the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Major League Baseball.

No date has been set for the next game, and teams have not been chosen. More information on how teams are selected for Tee Ball on the South Lawn can be found here: http://www.littleleague.org/media/teeballselection.asp

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest youth sports organization, with more than 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.

The President and Mrs. Bush believe every American has an opportunity to help children and youth in their families and communities to avoid trouble and lead more hopeful lives. Faith-based, community, and volunteer organizations – such as Little League and its Urban Initiative – are involved in efforts to reach at-risk youth and get them involved in their communities.

Bringing the benefits of the Little League program to children and their parents in metropolitan areas has been the mission of the Little League Urban Initiative since its inception in 1999. Currently, about 140 local Little Leagues in 55 U.S. cities are part of the Urban Initiative, including the two leagues taking part in the June 26 game at the White House. More than 37,000 children living in urban areas play Little League, a community project that is 66 years old this year, as part of the Urban Initiative.

“What is most important to Little League is that local leagues take a patch of grass and dirt, and turn it into a program that can strengthen communities, and strengthen families,” Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “What happens on the playing field – the wins and losses – really do not matter. What matters is the young people, how they develop, and what they grow to become.”

More information on Helping America’s Youth can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/firstlady/helping-youth.html

More information on the Little League Urban Initiative can be found here: www.littleleague.org