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Teams from Delaware and Pennsylvania Square Off at White House

A batter for the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend Little League Phillies has a big hit.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 11, 2004) – A Challenger Division team from Middletown-Odessa-Townsend, Delaware (MOT) Little League squared off against a team from the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Little Leagues in a Tee Ball game today on the South Lawn of the White House. As usual, both teams won.

In keeping with the tradition of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, no one kept score between the MOT Phillies and the Lancaster County Yankees. Every player played on defense and batted once in the one-inning game, which was followed by a picnic on the South Lawn for players and families. After the game, President George W. Bush presented an autographed baseball to each player, buddy, manager, and coach.

The game was the 11th on the South Lawn of the White House since May 6, 2001, when President Bush initiated the program 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.

The Challenger Division is Little League’s program for mentally and physically challenged children ages 5-18.  Since it was founded in 1989, about 200,000 children have played in the Little League Challenger Division, with more than 25,000 playing today. During Challenger games, each player is accompanied by a “buddy,” who assists the player when necessary.

This game was the second of 2004, and the fourth to feature teams from Little League’s Challenger Division. The Phillies were the first Delaware team to play a game on the South Lawn, and the Yankees were the second team from the Keystone State to play. In previous games, Little League teams have hailed from the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Maryland, and Michigan.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush watched the game from the grandstands, along with parents and other family members of the two teams, and former Major League pitcher Dennis Eckersley, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum later this summer. The base coaches were former Major Leaguer pitchers Dave Dravecky and Jim Abbott. Dale Petroskey, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr., also attended.

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.

A player on the Yankees zooms home with the help of a buddy.

President Bush greets a player after the game.
President Bush waits near a pyramid of very special boxes (containing baseballs bearing his signature and the Presidential Seal) at the end of the game. Each player, buddy, manager and coach receives one of the baseballs.

After the one-inning game, players shake hands.