Commissioner Manfred (left) receives Hall of Excellence Award from Little League International Board of Directors Chairman Hugh E. Tanner.
Little League® Baseball and Softball is proud to announce that Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., has officially been enshrined into the Little League Hall of Excellence in honor of his dedication to the growth of youth baseball and softball, his commitment to pursuing excellence, and his positive influence as a role model to aspiring Little Leaguers®. With his enshrinement, Mr. Manfred becomes the 56th member to earn a spot in the Hall of Excellence, the highest honor that Little League can bestow.
“It is an honor to welcome Commissioner Manfred into the Little League Hall of Excellence,” said Hugh E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “His commitment to the growth and development of youth baseball and softball in communities around the world, and the support that he has shown for the Little League program during his time as Commissioner, has been greatly appreciated by those of us at the grassroots level. Both of our futures are bright working together.”
In 2015, Mr. Manfred, a graduate of Rome (N.Y.) Little League, became the first alumnus of Little League elected to the Commissioner of Baseball following the retirement of current Commissioner Emeritus Allan H. “Bud” Selig. Manfred’s dedication to the youth was evident from the beginning as he made his first major public appearance as Commissioner-elect at the 2014 Little League Baseball® World Series, throwing out the first pitch of the August 20 game between the Mid-Atlantic Region (Taney Little League) and the West Region (Mountain Ridge Little League).
“I am honored to be enshrined in the Little League Hall of Excellence alongside the many great men and women who have come before me,” said Commissioner Manfred. “The successes that Major League Baseball has had with our youth outreach efforts would not be possible without terrific partnerships like the one we have built with everyone at Little League. The organization shares our belief that anyone who wants to play our great game should have that opportunity. We are very proud of the work we have already done together, but know there is plenty more to come in the future.”
During Mr. Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner, there has been a major focus on connecting and engaging youth in baseball and softball through initiatives and events such as PLAY BALL; MLB Pitch, Hit & Run; the Jr. Home Run Derby; All-Star Week related activities; and Little League Days at MLB ballparks.
His commitment shined bright this year in the establishment of the MLB Little League Classic, a special regular season game that took place this past August between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals in Williamsport during the Little League Baseball World Series. As part of the festivities surrounding the MLB Little League Classic, players from both Major League teams attended the Little League Baseball World Series in a first-of-its-kind show of support for youth baseball. Later that night, the players and families of the 16 teams competing in the Little League Baseball World Series then had the unique opportunity to attend the MLB Little League Classic at Historic Bowman Field, which for many of the Little Leaguers® marked their first ever Major League Baseball game experience. Following the success of the inaugural game, MLB and Little League will once again hold the MLB Little League Classic in 2018 with a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets on August 19.
“Major League Baseball’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans,” said Commissioner Manfred in MLB’s official release announcing the 2017 Little League Classic. “The ‘MLB Little League Classic’ exemplifies our entire sport’s commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime.”
As part of the celebration of the inaugural MLB Little League Classic, Mr. Manfred played a pivotal role in the announcement of an official partnership between Major League Baseball and Little League International to continue fostering interest and encouraging participation in youth-centered baseball and softball activities. As part of the partnership, MLB and Little League will collaborate on various youth and fan initiatives, and also provide visibility for these programs through a number of platforms, including digital and social media.
Mr. Manfred’s official enshrinement ceremony took place at the Opening Convocation of the 27th Little League International Congress in New Orleans. As part of the Ceremony, Mr. Manfred took the time to sit down with Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, and ESPN’s Karl Ravech for a keynote discussion in front of more than a thousand Little League volunteers.