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Virginia Little League District Claims Mars

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Feb. 10, 2004) – In a move that will create by far the largest district in Little League, a group of Little League Baseball and Softball programs in Northeast Virginia have claimed all of the planet Mars as part of their territory.

"There are Little League programs in some of the most remote and sparsely populated places of the U.S., and the world,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “Eventually, it seems, we will have to rename the Little League World Series as the Little League Interplanetary Series. Since Little League does not have a rule or regulation limiting the program to Earth, and we support President Bush’s new space initiative, we hope someday that Little Leaguers will play on Mars. We have approved the request to expand the boundaries.”

Little League Baseball and Softball is the solar system’s largest organized youth sports program with nearly 2.7 million participants and 1 million volunteers in all 50 U.S. states, scores of other countries and, maybe soon, at least one other planet.

Claiming Mars is the brainchild of Michael Pobat of Reston, district administrator for Virginia District 4. In Mr. Pobat’s request to the Little League International Charter Committee to expand his district’s boundaries, he cited these reasons:

  1. Educating our kids. I am currently enrolled at Virginia Tech pursuing a PhD in science and technology studies. One of the issues discussed in every class is how to we motivate young children to study science? It will be important to get kids excited about science so that in the future we will continue to develop innovative and creative medical and technological advances that will enhance humanity.
  2. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. During the 1960s kids were greatly impacted by the marvel of space flight, culminating with a manned mission to the moon. A generation of kids were impacted by the NASA events during that decade. Mars exploration will provide that next step of taking science fiction and turning it into science fact. What could be more exciting for our kids?
  3. Little League and community. During my years of involvement with Little League, I have determined that we are more than just baseball and softball. We teach kids safety, fundamentals, sportsmanship, teamwork, loyalty, and courage – the hallmarks of Little League. In keeping with this philosophy, I would like to show kids that science can also be fun.

A sign of things to come? In a recent photo from the "Spirit" rover on Mars, the arrow indicates a ball-shaped object, believed to be about nine inches in circumference.

Mr. Pobat, who works in the Pentagon, plans to develop the idea of exploring and someday colonizing Mars as a theme for the coming Little League season. He hopes to enlist help from NASA, and has scheduled space-related activities for the leagues in his area. Several thousand children and adult volunteers make up District 4 and its 13 chartered Little League Baseball and Softball programs in Alexandria, Great Falls, Arlington, Reston, Falls Church, McLean, Vienna, and Oakton. Several leagues in Virginia District 4 also have the Little League Challenger Division program for physically and mentally disabled children.

Children the world over can get involved in learning more about Mars by visiting the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory web site at: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/funzone_flash.html

What if Little League was Played on Mars?
Here are a few things to consider when Little League is someday played on Mars…

  • Dust storms are an occasional problem, but rain-outs are not.
  • Good news: A year on Mars lasts 687 Earth days, so the baseball season will be longer.
  • Bad news: The average temperature is minus-81 degrees Fahrenheit. (A pitcher’s ballpark…could result in the batter’s hands being stung if they don’t wear a batting glove.)
  • At its closest, Mars is about 35 million miles from Earth. At its farthest, it is 399 million miles from Earth. For any team on Mars that has to travel to Earth for the Little League Interplanetary Series, it will take months and sometimes years to make the trip. Until a faster method of travel is developed, the 11-year-old tournament team may have to be chosen when they are 8 or 9 years old.
  • Even though Mars is 4,220 miles in diameter (Earth is 7,926 miles in diameter), there’s plenty of land for baseball and softball fields. Since there is no liquid water on Mars, the total land area is about the same as Earth.
  • Gravity on Mars is only one-third that of Earth. That means if you can reach a point seven feet high to snag a fly ball on Earth, you could jump 21 feet high on Mars. Also, home runs will travel a lot farther. A home run that travels 200 feet in a Little League game on Earth would travel 600 feet on Mars.

For lots of information about Mars, and how human beings are using exploration of space to learn more about our own planet, visit http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/allabout/

Spaced-Out Little Leagues
Here are a few local Little League programs with names or locations that are “out of this world”...
League Name Location
Apollo Lions Little League Apollo, Pennsylvania
Fairbanks North Star Little League Fairbanks, Alaska
Half Moon Bay Little League Half Moon Bay, California
Haverhill Tri-Star American Little League Bradford, Massachusetts
Haverhill Tri-Star National Little League Bradford, Massachusetts
Le Mars Little League Le Mars, Iowa
Moon Township Little League Moon Township, Pennsylvania
NASA Area East Little League Houston, Texas
NASA Area West Little League Houston, Texas
Nep-City-Bradley-Beach Little League Neptune, New Jersey
Neptune Township Little League Neptune, New Jersey
North Star Little League Hooversville, Pennsylvania
Space Coast Little League Cocoa Beach, Florida
Sunnyside Lone Star Little League Fresno, California
Valley of the Moon Little League Sonoma, California

If your Little League program belongs on this list, let us know at: media@littleleague.org