The Little League® Pledge was written in 1954 by Peter J. McGovern, the first president of Little League Baseball, Incorporated, after became aware that local Little League programs were reciting the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance before games. Mr. McGovern wanted to give all leagues (not just those in the United States) a pledge reflecting some of the sentiments of the Pledge of Allegiance, without the references to the U.S., while adding the elements of sportsmanship and the desire to excel.
In February 1955, the Little Leaguer® magazine featured the first printing of the Little League Pledge. The text of the Little League Pledge was sent to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Feb. 22, 1955. President Eisenhower (and every President since then) was a strong supporter of Little League.
In a response by letter to Mr. McGovern a few days later, President Eisenhower said: “Thank you for … sending me the inspiring and fine pledge that, I understand, will now be repeated at the start of the Little League games. I am always glad to hear the plans and activities of Little League.” It has remained unchanged since it was first published.
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
Today, local Little League programs often choose to recite the Little League Pledge at the start of the season, and some recite it before every game. Some local leagues also choose to play or sing the National Anthem of the country in which the game is played.
Whether to recite the Little League Pledge (either partially or in its entirety), play/sing a National Anthem, or say a prayer, is entirely up to the local league’s Board of Directors. While many local leagues and districts include a recitation of the Little League Pledge in ceremonies, it is not, and has never been, required to be recited by any person involved with Little League Baseball or Softball.
A message promoting good sportsmanship and appropriate behavior by the game’s participants and fans can also be publicly read following the Little League Pledge. That statement is:
“Little League International and all of its local leagues promote and expect good sportsmanship by its players, coaches, volunteers, and spectators. We request your cooperation by supporting the participants and officials in a positive manner. Profanity, racial or ethnic comments, or other intimidating actions taken by spectators, players, coaches, or volunteers that is deemed inappropriate by the Little League International Tournament Committee will not be tolerated and may jeopardize the eligibility of the participating teams within this District tournament.”
Little League also has a pledge for Parents and Volunteers that is often recited along with the player pledge.
The Little League Parent and Volunteer Pledge
I will teach all children to play fair and do their best
I will positively support all managers, coaches and players
I will respect the decisions of the umpires
I will praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game