The Little League® Pledge is a historical document, written in the mid-1950s, by an official of Little League. It is not, and has never been, required to be recited by any person involved with Little League Baseball or Softball.
The text of the Little League Pledge has remained unchanged since its inception.
I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best
Local Leagues sometimes choose to recite the Little League Pledge at the start of the season or before games. Some local leagues may choose to only recite certain parts of the Little League Pledge. Some local leagues also choose to play or sing the National Anthem.
The author of the Little League Pledge intended for “I trust in God” to reflect the statement “In God We Trust” on U.S. coinage and currency, as well as the statement including a reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance (which was added at about the same time the Little League Pledge was created).
The only criteria involved in applying to participate as a Little Leaguer are: The participant’s age (must be appropriate for the specific division of Little League), and residence of the parent or court-appointed guardian (must be within the league’s boundaries).
It is left up to the elected members of the local Little League Board of Directors to determine whether or not they will recite the Little League Pledge, sing a National Anthem, or even whether or not to say a prayer.
Little League Baseball and Softball is a private organization. It is not a government organization, and thus is not bound by the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights with regard to the First Amendment’s prohibition against the state establishing an “official” religion. Consequently, if any pledge is recited before games or distributed in literature by member leagues, or if a prayer is recited before games, or if the National Anthem is played, it is not an infringement of anyone’s rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Rather, it is an expression of those rights, in a private, non-governmental setting. This is not mitigated by the fact that some local Little Leagues benefit from the use of public facilities, as do many children’s organizations, church groups, service clubs and other organizations that often do have specific requirements regarding religion or professions of belief.
As such, local Little Leagues must decide for themselves: whether or not to recite the pledge; whether or not to play the National Anthem; whether or not to recite a prayer before games (and, if so, whether that prayer will be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, etc.). Little League will not dictate these matters to its local Little Leagues.