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Little League Baseball World Series Under Way for 57th Time

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 15, 2003) – The 57th Little League Baseball World Series got under way today under sunny skies, as 16 teams from around the world began vying for the most recognized title in youth sports: Little League Baseball World Champion.

At Little League Volunteer Stadium, the traditional Parade of Champions saw Little Leaguers from Pennsylvania District 12 march in with the flags of the 105 nations in which Little League is played. That was followed by the 16 regional championship teams, and the volunteer umpiring crew from around the world that will be calling the games.

Of course, the whole procession was led by Little League’s mascot, Dugout. The ceremonies were punctuated – during the final notes of Chris Woodruff’s stirring trumpet rendition of the National Anthem – by a flyover of an Air Force KC-135 from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitches were the mayors of the city of Williamsport and the borough of South Williamsport, Michael Rafferty and William Miller, respectively. Both welcomed fans from around the globe to the annual event that will see the area’s population more than double.

In fact, by the end of the 10-day even, more than a quarter-million fans will be counted. But the “paid attendance,” as always, will be zero. No admission is ever charged for a Little League game, including the Little League Baseball World Series.

And, a family of four can buy a hot dog, soda and French fries for each person in their party for $16. Parking is free, too.

You can catch the action of the Little League Baseball World Series any one of several ways.

First, there’s ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. A total of 27 games will be televised live nationally – more than ever. In fact, every team in the World Series will have at least one game on national television. Millions of people worldwide will see the games.

In the Williamsport area and selected areas around the U.S., the “feed” from Williamsport radio station WRAK-AM 1400 can be heard. As the flagship station of the Little League Baseball World Series, WRAK’s broadcasts can also be heard via the Internet at http://www.chilitech.com/worldseries/.

And, of course, you can read stories, see photos and check out the box scores of all the games on the Little League web site at: http://www.littleleague.org/series/2003divisions/llbb/series.htm. The site includes listings of all the games to be televised, the weather forecast for the Williamsport area, and the feature stories that help make the Little League Baseball World Series such a fun event for everyone.

The Little League Baseball World Series was first played in 1947. Back then, only two states were part of Little League, and there were only a few thousand players in the program.

Little League has grown a bit since then. In fact, since the International Tournament began in the first week of July, about 16,000 games have been played worldwide in order to determine the 16 teams that are playing in the World Series. That’s more games than are played in six full seasons of Major League Baseball regular season play.

Now, more than 2.7 million children in all 50 U.S. states and 104 other countries play Little League baseball and softball. That makes Little League the largest organized youth sports program on Earth.

The Little League Baseball World Series is just one of eight annual World Series tournaments. You can see the results of all the tournaments at: http://www.littleleague.org/series/index.htm.