Major League Baseball (MLB), the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and Little League® International jointly announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs will play in the third “MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO” in Williamsport, Pa., during the 2019 MLB Championship Season. The special Regular Season contest, as well as ancillary activities by each club, will take place on Sunday, August 18th, with the game airing nationally that evening on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and ESPN Radio at 7 p.m. (ET).
MLB and the MLBPA will host the next iteration of the MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO at the renovated Historic Bowman Field, the home of the Class-A Williamsport Crosscutters of the NY-Penn League. Once again, the participating players, coaches and families of the 2019 Little League Baseball World Series, as well as local Williamsport youth baseball & softball organizations, will fill a significant portion of the capacity at Bowman Field.
Major Leaguers on the Pirates and Cubs will attend Little League Baseball® World Series games earlier in the day on August 18th, demonstrating their commitment to helping grow the game at the youth level.
“The MLB Little League Classic has been a fun summer highlight for Baseball the past two years,” said Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “We are thrilled to give both the Major League players and Little Leaguers® another opportunity in 2019 to have the direct personal interaction that strengthens and inspires a lifelong passion for our game. We look forward to joining the Pirates and Cubs in Williamsport to welcome an outstanding collection of engaging players as great ambassadors of our sport.”
Tony Clark, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said: “Players always enjoy the opportunity to share their passion and excitement for baseball with the talented young players competing in the Little League World Series. That connection between generations of Players is the lifeblood of our game.”
“Little League International is thrilled to welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs to Williamsport for the third MLB Little League Classic in 2019,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “The Classic has been a fabulous experience for the Little League Baseball World Series teams who’ve had the opportunity to interact with the big leaguers and is the perfect vehicle to showcase the youthful excitement and energy that fuels the games of baseball and softball. We’re really pleased that another group of 16 Little League teams from around the world will have this incredible opportunity.”
“We are thrilled to return to Williamsport,” said Pittsburgh Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting. “It was such a rewarding experience for our players and staff having played in the inaugural Classic in 2017. Our players loved the time that they were able to spend with the Little League players, both at the Little League complex and at Historic Bowman Field. We are proud to actively participate in the Commissioner’s ongoing efforts to grow the game and positively impact the next generation of players and fans.”
“It is an honor for the Cubs to participate in next year’s Little League Classic,” said Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “For so many who played baseball growing up, playing in the Little League World Series was a dream. We cannot wait for this amazing opportunity to continue building the future of this great game and encouraging more kids to realize their potential on this big stage.”
Historic Bowman Field, in which Major League Baseball and the State of Pennsylvania invested a multi-million dollar renovation prior to the 2017 MLB Little League Classic, opened in 1926. It is the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the United States. More than 560 Major Leaguers, including Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Bill Mazeroski, Jim Rice and Jim Bunning, have worn a professional baseball uniform for Williamsport.
The Little League Baseball World Series is an international championship tournament for children, ages 10-12, held annually in Williamsport, the headquarters for Little League International. Each year, countries from around the world compete on a global stage, with games airing on ESPN and streamed via the ESPN App.
Major League Baseball and the Players Association continue to commit resources to growing the games of baseball and softball, on both the grassroots and developmental levels. In particular, MLB and the MLBPA jointly support a variety of programs through the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, including the Elite Development Invitational. Through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, the charitable arm of the MLBPA, Players are dedicated to providing baseball and baseball related experiences to under-served youth, special needs youth and the children of veterans and active military personnel. The PLAY BALL initiative, which is supported by Little League International, USA Baseball, USA Softball, Minor League Baseball and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is MLB’s largest effort to encourage young people and communities to participate in baseball- or softball-related activities, including formal leagues, events and casual forms of play. PLAY BALL events have become MLB’s signature youth engagement activity during the professional and amateur baseball and softball calendar, including key dates throughout the MLB off-season and into the World Series. MLB and all 30 Clubs have committed $40 million of resources toward the growth and sustainability of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Additionally, MLB supports developmental initiatives aimed at engaging under-served communities, particularly through the MLB Youth Academies and amateur development camps such as the DREAM Series and the Breakthrough Series.