Little League Challenger Division Players Participate In MLB All-Star Week Event
Hillsboro (Mo.) R-3 Little League was invited to participate in the 2009 Challenger Champions Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as part of the Major League Baseball All-Star Week festivities.
On Monday, July 13, Hillsboro R-3 Little League’s Challenger Division, for physically and mentally disabled children, and a team from the Protect Our Nation’s Youth (PONY) League Champions program, played a one-inning game in right field at Busch Stadium.
Each player had one at-bat and played half of an inning in the field during the one-inning game. There were 14 players per team, and each team had a manager, two coaches and several “buddies” to assist the players with their trip around the bases, and play in the field.
“The children had a great time, and the game was something they will never forget,” Sam Ranck, Little League’s Director of the Challenger Division, who attended the game, said. “This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the kids. Making the trip into St. Louis, and being on the Major League field were the main things I heard highlighted by the families who were part of the event.”
Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn attended the game and cheered on the participants as they crossed home plate. The game was attended by the players’ families and other local Little League officials.
This was the second year that Major League Baseball presented the Challenger Champions Game during All-Star Week. The inaugural game was played in 2008, at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, N.Y. Mr. Ranck said he expects the game to become an annual event during MLB’s All-Star Week events.
Little League Tee Ball teams also were part of the MLB All-Star Week, as teams from Desoto Little League participated in a game at the 2009 MLB All-Star FanFest.
The largest interactive baseball fan event in the United States, MLB FanFest is a unique experience for local families and fans.
On July 13, the Desoto Little Leaguers from St. Louis, played on “The Diamond,” an indoor mini-ballpark with an infield, outfield, fences, grandstands and Jumbotron scoreboard. This year’s FanFest was held at the America’s Center Convention Complex.
The game was two innings long, and each player batted and played the field in each inning.
Tee Ball USA, a national not-for-profit youth sport organization based in Stratford, Conn., coordinated the game. Tee Ball USA is not affiliated with Little League Baseball and Softball based in South Williamsport, Pa.
Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn (second from left) was a spectator at the annual Challenger Champions game held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis as part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Week activities. A team of Little Leaguers from the Hillsboro (Mo.) R-3 Little League’s Challenger Division participated in the second annual game.