Reflecting on the Little League Baseball® World Series with Stephen D. Keener

As I celebrate my 40th year with Little League®, it’s tough to narrow down one single memory that sticks out the most from the Little League Baseball® World Series, but that’s what makes the event so special and unique. Every year, every team, every player brings its own story and each World Series brings its own unique memories and experiences.

While this August marks 40 years as an employee for the organization, Little League has been a piece of my life ever since I was a child. My father served as a volunteer Team Host, and I can vividly recall coming to Lamade Stadium and sitting on the hill watching the games as a child. The one memory that always sticks out from that time is watching the pitcher wind up, throw the pitch, and hit the catcher’s glove, but not hearing the sound until about a half-second later. That was always pretty cool to me and showed the magnitude of the stage they played on.

“For many reasons (Little League Baseball® World Series) Opening Day has always been my favorite. I know it’s corny, but I still, after 40 years, get a strong emotional feeling when I hear “It’s a Small World” and see the smiles on young faces as they proudly march onto the field waving their hats…all champions…nobody has lost a game yet.”
– Stephen D. Keener, Little League® President and CEO

Now, after working for the organization for four decades, I could spend all day reminiscing about some of those incredible moments I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, but the ones that stand out the most are some of the firsts that I’ve gotten to experience.

  • 1980 – My first Little League Baseball World Series as a Little League employee. That will always be one of my most memorable experiences.
    1980 LLWS Champions
  • 1984 – Watching the first girl to ever play in the Little League Baseball World Series, Victoria Roche, and the inspiration she has provided over the years.
    Victoria Roche
  • 1989 – Not only were we celebrating the 50th anniversary of the organization, but I had the opportunity to watch our first female umpire, Betty Speziale, take the field.
    Betty Speziale
  • 2001 – After expanding the World Series to 16 teams in this year, we also got to experience the first time that a sitting President of the United States came to visit the Little League Baseball World Series when George W. Bush came to Williamsport.
    George W. Bush
  • 2012 – Watching the first team from Africa make it to Williamsport was truly special. What was most memorable was watching the generosity and kindness the other teams and parents showed that team when they were here. A true look into what Little League is all about.
    2012 EMA Team
  • 2017 – The first ever MLB Little League Classic between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. That day will always be special to me, and is a testament to the relationship that we have developed with Major League Baseball.
    2017 MLB LL Classic

While those firsts will always hold a special place in my heart, this year is another first that I will never forget. Although we are all very disappointed that we will not be hosting the Little League World Series for the first time this August in almost 75 years, we look forward to returning to play in 2021 and making this experience bigger and better than ever for everyone involved. It has been an honor to experience a number of Little League’s firsts over the years, and I look forward to what the future brings as we join together as One Team. One Little League.

– Stephen D. Keener, Little League® President and CEO