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Waynesboro Little League Team  Invited to Play on South Lawn of White House

WAYNESBORO, Va. (Sept. 12, 2002) – A team from Waynesboro Little League has been invited by President George W. Bush to take part in his initiative to boost interest in baseball, it was announced today in a news conference.

Click here to read an excerpt from White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s announcement about this game.

Click here to see President George W. Bush's 1955 Little League Team Roster.

Click here to see photos from the most recent "Tee Ball on the South Lawn" game.

Click here to learn how Tee Ball teams are selected.
Click here to go to the White House web site and see a video of the game.
Click here to go to the White House Kids Page and read about baseball and the presidency.

The Waynesboro Little League Challenger Division Sand Gnats will square off for a friendly game of Tee Ball in the president’s back yard against a team from East Brunswick, N.J., on September 22. Three games in the Tee Ball on the South Lawn program were played in 2001, and two games have been played so far this year. 

Waynesboro Little League originally chartered with Little League Baseball in 1953. This year, 26 teams made up the league.

The team was informed of the selection today at the Charles T. Yancey Municipal Building in Waynesboro.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer announced last year that the White House is working with Little League Baseball International to invite teams to play Tee Ball games on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. Little League Baseball is the world’s largest youth sports organization, with 2.8 million players in all 50 U.S. states and 103 other countries.

Little League’s Challenger Division is for mentally or physically challenged children. Started in 1989, the Challenger Division now boasts more than 24,000 players in the U.S. and several other countries.

Since it was founded in 1939, about 35 million people have played or volunteered for Little League, which offers baseball and softball programs for children ages 5-18. In Tee Ball games, a batting tee is used instead of pitching. Scores are not kept, with the emphasis placed on instruction and having fun.

Players from the Waynesboro Little League Challenger Division gather with their manager and coaches at the City Council Meeting Room of the Charles T. Yancey Municipal Building in Waynesboro, on Sept. 12, 2002.

President Bush played Little League Baseball in Midland, Texas, in the 1950s. His team was the Cubs, and he was known as a good defensive player. He is also the first Little League graduate to be elected president, and became the first sitting president to visit the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the world championship game on Aug. 26 last year. 

“I equate Little League Baseball with good families,” the president said during his remarks at the Little League Baseball World Series before a crowd of more than 40,000. “I want to thank all the coaches for working with the kids. You’re not only teaching the kids how to throw and hit, you’re teaching them incredibly important values: the values of good clean competition; the values of teamwork; the values of working with somebody to win for something greater than yourself.”

More recently, President Bush met with two Little League teams in two states on the same day, Sept. 5, honoring both teams for their dedication.

In Louisville, Ky., the President was greeted, after he exited Air Force One, by the Valley Sports American Little League team that won the Little League Baseball World Series on Aug. 25 in Williamsport, Pa., defeating a team from Japan 1-0 in the final. He mentioned the team in his speech later in the day.

“I … met the Louisville Little League team,” President Bush said. “I did remind them, it’s just beginning for you. You’ve got a responsibility now that you’re champs, a responsibility to make the right choices in life.”

Later in the day, President Bush flew to South Bend, Ind., where he met the players of the East Side Little League, which finished fourth in the world in the Girls Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore.

Several companies have supported Little League Baseball in the Tee Ball on the South Lawn project, so that all the equipment necessary (except gloves, which are those belonging to the players) is available, including fencing, bases, bats, baseballs, catcher’s equipment, player benches and the batting tee. Little League also provides numbered shirts and a baseball cap for each Little League player, which are kept by the players as souvenirs. The companies providing support to Little League are: CNA Insurance, Snickers Brand, New Era Cap Company, Wilson Sporting Goods, Russell Athletic, SportFence, Easton, Larson Design Group and TurnKey Construction.

The game’s players, managers and coaches also receive a baseball bearing the Presidential Seal and signature of President Bush -- his personal gift for their participation. 

More Tee Ball on the South Lawn games are being planned, but specific dates and teams have not been determined. Leagues can express their desire to be considered for selection to send a team to the White House by visiting Little League’s official web site at: http://www.littleleague.org.